Volunteering gives more than just experience
UniSA students have gained experience in the field and made a contribution to society by volunteering at the annual Homeless Connect: Homelessness, Health and Housing Expo at Whitmore Square on Thursday 20 October.
The event, a joint initiative run by Shelter SA, Adelaide City Council and Housing SA, helps homeless people and those living in financial despair to connect with services and get information and advice.
UniSA had a large presence at the expo, with 45 students from law, nursing, pharmacy, psychology, health sciences and physiotherapy setting up under an expansive stall that was managed by the School of Health Sciences.
Free fruit, sunscreen and jelly beans were given away, while information and advice was on hand, along with referrals for free treatment and sessions at UniSA’s clinics in Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Psychology, and Legal Advice.
Other services provided on the day included blood pressure and blood glucose testing, foot screening and assessment, and back and shoulder massages.
Fourth year physiotherapy students Sara Cheh and Kelly Homann gave massages on the day and said volunteering at the Homeless Expo allowed them to use their training to help others.
“Volunteering at the Homeless Expo has really helped to open my eyes to the various services that are available to give assistance to those who are less fortunate,” Sara said.
“We’ve had lots of lovely people come up to our stall for a quick massage who were really lovely to talk to and genuinely interested in what physiotherapy has to offer.”
Lecturer Maureen McEvoy, who was supervising the physiotherapy stall, said she enjoyed the opportunity to talk and work with students outside of the teaching environment and to make a contribution to the local area.
“We have a clinic where we could provide something, give something back to the community in terms of advice and information on what’s available, and maybe suggest that they come down and be assessed if they’ve got some problem,” she said.
“Small changes in people’s lives can make a big difference.”
Lecturer of Health Promotion, Richard McGrath, said the expo was a good opportunity for students to connect with other service providers in the industry who may be future employers.
He said the expo helped to teach students that health is not located in hospitals with doctors and nurses, but exists throughout the community.
“To be able to engage in improving people’s health and wellbeing, we have to engage in community and not wait for them to come to the clinic,” he said.
“By actively being out in the community, we provide opportunities for communities to understand what we do, but also provide students with an understanding of what some of the issues in the community are.”
Project Officer in the School of Health Sciences, Jo Willis, managed UniSA’s involvement in the expo, and said that the expo has been an ideal opportunity for students to work collaboratively with each other and engage with those living in financial despair.
“We’re always looking for opportunities for our students to enhance and complement their clinical experiences,” she said.
“Because of the Allied Mobile-Health Clinic, we were able to increase our support in the community, taking our students and their knowledge and skills with us.”
Anyone who is interested in volunteering at the Homeless Expo next year should contact School of Health Sciences Project Officer Jo Willis.