Monday 14 December 2015

Our student placement at Emmaus

Megan and Aimee

We are two second year medical students from the University of Leeds that came to volunteer at Emmaus as part of our community module. Prior to the placement we were unaware of the organisation and what it does. We were hoping to learn more about health care in the community, improve our communication skills and discover some of the circumstances that lead to people becoming homeless.

We visited Emmaus Leeds at a very exciting time during the reopening of their newly refurbished café. It was great to be able to contribute by speaking to a range of businesses around Leeds and encouraging them to donate raffle prizes. We were very successful, for example one restaurant donated a £40 meal voucher. On the day we made posters and leaflets to promote the raffle. It was a great networking opportunity allowing us to talk to members of the public. It was good to hear that people have been coming here since it opened thirteen years ago and still continue to support Emmaus today. We think that the café looks fantastic and you can clearly see that it has taken a lot of hard work from the companions to reach this standard.

For us, the most rewarding and relevant part of the experience was being able to speak to a companion one to one. We were particularly interested to hear what plans he had beyond Emmaus and it was refreshing to hear that he is perusing his ambitions. We think that this shows that Emmaus is good at helping people to regain their self-confidence. It was also great to hear that he felt he had access to all the medical services that he required and that Emmaus will always signpost people to the right place if they don’t have the resources themselves.

We also spent time in the sorting room and at the market stalls in Leeds city centre. We were very impressed by the generosity of the public. There were so many donations to sort through each day (medical school doesn’t prepare you for this and we couldn’t keep up!) and the volunteers were so efficient. We noticed that the business side did not only support companions but also helps the wider community. There are lots of families in Leeds that are less fortunate than others and Emmaus allows them to buy good quality second hand furniture and clothes at really affordable prices.

We have really enjoyed our time at Emmaus. It has helped us to understand the complex reasons behind homelessness and allowed us to consider what the NHS and us as future doctors can do to help address some of the issues around homelessness.

We would like to stay in touch with Emmaus Leeds and would happily recommend its services in the future. Finally, thank you for having us!

By Megan & Aimee :)

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