After what seems like a very short five weeks, my time at St. Anne’s has come to an end. I’ve settled in well and have a great relationship with the service users, so it seems almost too soon to be leaving!
The main aim of my project was to collect data on Spice use (more on that later), but during my time here I’ve also become involved in a lot more of the work that St. Anne’s does. I’ve helped to run the breakfast club every week, which was a great way to meet the clients and talk to them about my project.
It’s nearing the end of my third week at St. Anne’s, so it’s definitely time for another blog post. Before we dive into the details, I thought it might be a good idea to clarify some of the jargon I’ll be using throughout my posts.
A ‘client’ or ‘service user’ is someone who has come to St. Anne’s for any kind of assistance, from help with housing or substance abuse problems, to just wanting a shower and a hot meal. St. Anne’s has many different clients, but my project is focused on those who are ‘vulnerably housed’. This term is a bit foggy; it covers just about everything from street homeless (what we tend to think of when we hear the word homeless) to someone living in a hostel, right the way through to people who actually have their own tenancy.
I thought I’d dedicate my first blog post to explaining at little bit about my internship, and the organisation that I’ll be working with over the coming weeks.
St. Anne’s Community Services is a charity based in Leeds that provides a huge variety of services to many groups, from the homeless to those with mental health problems, from asylum seekers to people with substance abuse issues. In 2014 (see my previous Charity Insights blog posts!) I carried out a project at St. Anne’s that was focused on Alcohol Related Brain Damage, or ARBD, in the homeless. I really enjoyed working with the team at St.
It’s hard to believe that my time at St. Anne’s is over – four weeks has flown by! Over the past week (alongside my usual screening programme) I’ve been involved in several events with St. Anne’s, such as helping to run their service user drop-in session yesterday. It was a chance for people to make suggestions or raise concerns about the services on offer at St. Anne’s, as well as to sample the Krispy Kreme doughnuts on offer! I really enjoyed getting involved with the service users and hearing their opinions on the services they use everyday, and it really highlighted to me how important St.
Week three is just about over and it’s probably been my favourite (and the most interesting) week so far. I’ve spent a lot of time designing a leaflet about ARBD for staff I discussed in my last blog post, and a large part of that has been to do my own research on the condition. This involved literature searches and lots of journal articles! The whole point of my project with St. Anne’s was to help raise awareness of the severity and prevalence of ARBD in vulnerable groups, and the lack of resources on this subject really highlighted the need for greater awareness of the condition.
My second week at St. Anne’s is nearly over, and I feel like I’ve settled in nicely. As I’ve carried out more and more screening I’ve become much more confident with the process, and when explaining the results to service users. The staff have been working really hard to raise awareness of my screening amongst service users and as a result I’ve been pretty busy!
Throughout my time at St. Anne’s, my perception of the homeless and people with alcohol/substance abuse problems has changed dramatically. It’s often difficult to admit that we have prejudices towards these groups, but I’ll put my hands up and say that before I began my project I had always been a bit frightened or suspicious of them.
My first week at St. Anne’s is (prematurely, for this week anyway!) over, and already I feel like I’ve learnt a huge amount.
Arriving at the breakfast club on Tuesday morning, in all honesty I was terrified. I was convinced no one would want to be screened for cognitive impairment while they were having their breakfast! But as soon as I arrived the staff made me feel very welcome, and went out of their way to make sure I felt comfortable. It was important to ensure that the service users felt at ease with me, so for a while I just helped out serving tea and toast, chatting to the people who came in.
Since it’s my first blog post I’ll just give a brief overview of my internship project. Over the next four-six weeks I’ll be working with St. Anne’s, a charity based in Leeds that provides a range of services to vulnerable groups in society, from the homeless to people with learning disabilities. My project involves working with St. Anne’s to screen groups of people for cognitive impairment, linked to ARBD – Alcohol Related Brain Damage.
ARBD is an umbrella term for various symptoms associated with physical damage to the brain, caused by both the toxic effects of alcohol and vitamin deficiencies that accompany its long-term use.