Dan on his first six months as a #HealthNow volunteer during a pandemic

“I think change needs to happen from the ground up…I want to break down barriers so that people who are homeless can receive the treatment they need.”

Dan Wood volunteers for #HealthNow; a partnership between Groundswell, Crisis and Shelter that aims to use the experience of homelessness to create an inclusive healthcare system. In Birmingham Dan volunteers with Crisis, who lead the local #HealthNow project, since February he has taken on a range of roles across research and health advocacy.

Recently Dan has taken on the role as national #HealthNow volunteer representative – sitting on the partnership board to ensure all local #HealthNow volunteers are represented on a national level. Here Dan reflects on his volunteering experience so far, at a time when Groundswell are growing their peer network across the country and when most volunteering opportunities are remote as a result of the pandemic.

What roles do you volunteer in? I volunteer as a #HealthNow Peer Researcher and #HealthNow Call and Check volunteer. I am also part of the reference group for the COVID-19 monitoring project. I have recently taken on the role of #HealthNow national volunteer representative.

Why did you want to volunteer? l have experienced homelessness myself and am passionate about creating change for the most vulnerable in our society. I think change needs to happen from the ground up and experts by experience need to be involved in every step of the process. I’m also passionate about the healthcare system. I want to break down barriers so that people who are homeless can receive the treatment they need.

What skills do you bring to the role to make the project beneficial for you? I’m an expert by experience so understand the challenges of accessing healthcare systems while homeless. I’ve also volunteered for other health and social care organisations so have a good knowledge of health systems.  I’m a good communicator and am able to build a good rapport with people from all different backgrounds, from the ground floor to above. I think before I act and am able to plan the best way of approaching difficult problems.

What training and other development opportunity have you taken part in? I completed face-to-face peer research training in February 2020 and a zoom peer research refresher in September 2020. I completed a weeklong Call and Check training course in August 2020. I’ve had conversations with my #HealthNow supervisor at Crisis and staff at Groundswell about different career paths, which has helped me think about my options. I also meet with a Work and Learning Coach at Crisis to explore career options.

I’ve been able to improve my presentation skills by giving presentations at #HealthNow alliance meetings and the #HealthNow partnership board.

What have you personally gained from volunteering? I’ve gained further knowledge of the healthcare system. I’ve also increased my confidence and self-esteem by taking part in #HealthNow activities such as alliance meetings. I’ve also improved my time-keeping skills as I have to keep track of different meetings and balance my other commitments.

 

If you’d like to find out more about volunteering for #HealthNow please email #HealthNow Network Coordinator Rachel who will direct you to the relevant local team: [email protected].

Thank you to the National Lottery Community Fund for funding the four year #HealthNow partnership.