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Physio volunteers provide 140 free appointments to Crisis at Christmas homeless guests

10 January 2014 - 10:01am

More than 30 volunteers delivered 140 physiotherapy sessions to homeless people who spent last Christmas as guests of national charity Crisis.

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Crisis guests received assessments and advice about exercise. Photo: Crisis

The homeless people received physiotherapy over a six-day period at 10 Crisis Christmas centres in London, Edinburgh and Newcastle.

‘We were able to provide a lot of assessment, plus advice about exercise and health promotion, and steered guests to mainstream NHS care for the rest of the year,’ said Jo Dawes, a CSP member and organiser of the service.

She said that physios were also able to provide therapeutic interventions aimed at symptomatic relief.

Christmas 2013 was the second year running that Crisis provided physiotherapy services during the festive period. Among the pool of volunteers were three physios and three students who had helped to provide the service in 2012; as well as physios who had previously volunteered in other roles, such as serving meals.

Providing access to physiotherapy

Ms Dawes said that the recruitment of volunteers had started in autumn 2013 and went well. But illness and travel disruption meant that some volunteers were unable to fulfil their shifts, which ‘presented difficulties’.

Stuart Deaton, a third year physiotherapy student at St George’s, University of London and a new volunteer, said he was able to help the physios and asked the guests whether they might benefit from physiotherapy.

‘This group of people doesn’t have GPs and would find it particularly difficult to access physiotherapy,’ he said.

Crisis intends to develop its physio services and will be looking for a larger number of volunteers for Christmas 2014, in particular to run an outreach service to some of the centres.

Ms Dawes added: ‘It did take a lot of work, but I feel it is an honour. I just hope that the people we saw are able to access the services they need throughout the rest of the year.’

Asked whether he would consider volunteering for Crisis again, Mr Deaton said: ‘Definitely. It was really interesting experience.’

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