"Poverty Amidst Plenty trip will help me become a better practitioner"

A biannual #DMUglobal trip that gives students the chance to analyse the reality of American society is going from strength to strength.

Running since November 2015, Poverty Amidst Plenty sees De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students visit Florida to find out about health and social care services. They then contrast conditions, responses, ideology and culture with the UK.

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For the most recent departure, nursing students had the chance to join their health and social care peers, with trip lead Dr Stephen Handsley saying this made the experience “even more special”.

Cara Merry, who studies Mental Health Nursing, was delighted to join in.

“The trip was amazing,” she said. “My highlights were getting the opportunity to visit and volunteer at food banks, recovery centres and homeless centres.

“It was great to be able to talk to service users and understand the mental health system in the USA.

“Being able to present at the University of Central Florida (UCF) was also amazing and has built my confidence for future presentations.”

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Back in the UK, Cara says the experience has enabled her to consider her own practice.

“Activities on the trip were relevant to current practice and modules on the course,” she said. “It has allowed me to see how to become a better practitioner.”

In the Sunshine State, students learnt about issues including severe financial hardship in an area rarely thought of as deprived.

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Activities included visits to a secure mental health hospital and a mental health transition centre, plus volunteer work at food banks and centres for homeless people. The centrepiece was presenting to staff and students at UCF.

Dr Handsley said: “This was the most successful trip thus far, primarily due to the inclusion of nurses from three fields of practice, who brought a unique set of intellectual insights to the study of poverty amidst plenty.

“In return, I believe it not only broadened their social and cultural horizons but also seemed to have awakened within them the extent to which a political and ideological understanding of any phenomena is crucial in reaching decisions surrounding health and social care.”

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Health Psychology master’s student Suman Zulifqar said the trip was “amazing”.

“It allowed students from different backgrounds to come together and share ideas from within their fields of practice,” she said.

Her highlight was a visit to the Hope Community Center, dedicated to the empowerment of the immigrant and working poor communities.

“We ended up doing a role play that was performed in front of the other students,” she said. “This was amazing to be part of, as it allowed students to mix and communicate and bring ideas together.”

The trip has also been a confidence-booster.

Suman added: “I went on this trip not knowing anyone and I’ve come back with amazing people as my friends. With their support I’ve become a confident speaker.”

Posted on Thursday 24th May 2018

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