Support Worker

SLVeteran Gemma

Education: Occupational Therapy - Glasgow Caledonian University, UK

SLV.Global Placement: OT Advanced Placement, Sri Lanka

Current Role: 'I will be entering my 3rd year at university this September and will also begin my 10-week placement of this trimester. I have also been working as a support worker for people with an acquired brain injury and have taken up a voluntary post as a “volunteer typist” for a community writers group. I have also began to learn sign language online through British-Sign.'

Tell us about your SLV.Global experience: 'I was surprised when I did not get a culture shock when I arrived in Sri Lanka, instead, I fully immersed myself into it and accepted the way things were from the moment I arrived at my homestay (considering my first shower that day was with a frog!) I felt so immersed within the Sri Lankan culture and surroundings that it felt right, I felt like I belonged here. These feelings came as a surprise to me as I did not expect to feel more comfortable there than I did my own home in Scotland. The overwhelming feeling of happiness filled me every day of my 5-week adventure, nothing I have ever felt before. I believe these feelings were derived from the friendly, happy people of the community I lived within, my homestay family for nurturing my stay and making me feel that I was actually their daughter/sister, the other SLV volunteers who made projects, social nights and weekends about fun and laughter, the SLV team as a whole who done their ultimate best to ensure feelings of safety and security and for the humbling experience of volunteering for people who truly appreciated and welcomed your support. These endless memories have shaped who I am as a person and I hope they will continue to do so each time I reflect upon my experience as a volunteer, or when I look through my bursting photo album at a time when I was most happy.'

Tell us what you gained from the placement: 'I have developed learning strategies which alongside came decision making, working as a team and the importance of communication and collective efforts. My understanding of Occupational Therapy (OT) in a different context has widened as I was able to identify scope for OT and what interventions I knew (gained from university and placements) would benefit the individuals I worked with. The mass difference in healthcare provision here in the UK compared to Sri Lanka has made me realise what we, as a nation, could learn and benefit from the delivery of OT in Sri Lanka and vice versa. This has sparked a drive in me to continue to research and gain experience of the delivery of health and social care, and as a long term goal; to think of what I could hopefully deliver/contribute as a volunteer OT in developing countries upon graduation.'