The British College of Osteopathic Medicine is celebrating over two years of partnership with C4WS Homeless Project to offer free massage therapy to shelter guests every other Tuesday. BCOM students provide massage therapy to C4WS Homeless guests on a fortnightly basis at the C4WS Homeless Project winter shelter. The service enables shelter guests to receive much needed support after rough sleeping and the carrying of heavy bags. In addition, all C4WS guests are invited to BCOM’s teaching clinic for a course of free osteopathic treatment.
Homelessness continues to rise with an estimated 4,677 people sleeping rough on the streets in England on any one night. An audit conducted with rough sleepers in 2014 found that 73% of this demographic reported some form of physical problem, with 22.1% reporting joints and muscular problems (this compares to 13.9% of the general population). An observational study in 2013 on chronic pain experienced by those sleeping rough suggested that 51.4% of the respondents reported pain in their lower limbs, 36.9% in the abdomen, back and pelvis. The study suggested that people experiencing homeless had higher levels of chronic pain compared to the general population for a number of reasons. 41% of C4WS Homeless Project guests report physical health problems.Students, as part of their four-year Masters of Osteopathy degree, are encouraged to take part in projects working in partnership with local community groups.
Commenting, Jemma Sager, BCOM’s Head of Clinic, said:
“We are celebrating over two years of partnership with C4WS Homeless Project, where our students have been offering free massage therapy to shelter guests. This service is a vital component of our Masters in Osteopathy (M.Ost) degree because it is important for our staff and students to raise awareness of osteopathy and how to access osteopathic treatment locally. Furthermore, it gives our students a better understanding of the struggles faced by those people who have no permanent address or secure long-term accommodation. Our students provide relief to those people who have to carry all their possessions around with them which manifests physically in their bodies as pain, aches, tight muscles and tension.”
Commenting, Seon Rice-Lupin, student at BCOM, said,
“As a student learning osteopathy, it is really important for us to gain an understanding of the needs of hard to reach patients. By providing massage therapy to shelter guests, I have greater knowledge of the struggles faced by people with no permanent address.”
Commenting, Nikki Barnett, Project Manager at C4WS Homeless Project said,
“We are very grateful to BCOM for providing massage therapy for our shelter guests for the past two years. We believe this therapy is an important part of improving the wellbeing of our guests and fits in with us trying to assist our guests in a holistic way. This service enables those without permanent accommodation to receive access to essential healthcare treatment.”