My name is Sophie and I was an intern at Depaul Ireland during the summer of 2023.
I am a senior at the University of Missouri in the United States and I am getting a degree in Health Sciences.
When I first heard that I was going to be interning in the Fundraising and Communications Department at Depaul. I was a little nervous because I had never worked in that field of study before. It was also stressful knowing that I would be working in a country that I had never visited before, and wasn’t aware of how the workforce operated. However, my worries soon went away when I was warmly welcomed in by the Depaul family on my first day at the job. Everyone was so friendly and encouraged me to ask questions if I was confused or lost. My supervisor, Noirin, kindly took me under her wing and taught me all about the charity and what it stood for. I learned so much about the differences Depaul makes in people’s lives and how it stands out from other homeless organizations. The thing about Depaul that I thought was so special was how they don’t turn people away when they suffer from some sort of addiction. Depaul made it clear that they are here to help everyone who needs it, and those who need it most are the ones that have severe mental health problems, physical disabilities, or addictions. They encourage everyone who needs help to reach out, and they will try their hardest to provide the best possible accommodation for them.
One of my most memorable experiences during my time at Depaul was when I visited LittleBritain Street, one of the lower threshold services provided.
Jim Sperrin graciously took time out of his busy schedule to show my supervisor and I around the shelter. It was an eye-opening experience for me seeing the true conditions of what it is like living in a homeless shelter. It is one thing to hear about what it means to be homeless, but seeing it with your eyes and talking to those suffering takes it to another level. Jim talked to us about the mental and physical toll that one goes through while staying in these temporary accommodation services, and there are so many more struggles and obstacles than I would have ever even thought of.
Another really valuable experience was when I traveled to Belfast and visited one of the family services and I got to meet one of the service users and watch the behind the scenes as they interviewed her about what it was like being a single mother to twins living in this accommodation. That was another eye-opening experience because the girl that we interviewed was my age, and it put into perspective how prevalent this issue is not only in Ireland, but across the world. I have never been exposed to homelessness because no one in my life suffered from it, so I assumed that it wasn’t that common. But that is so far from the truth. Homelessness is a devastation everywhere and more light needs to be brought to the matter. I am so thankful to Depaul for opening my eyes and my heart to the struggles that so many face on a daily basis. I will continue using the lessons I learned here at Depaul even after I head back to the states. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to intern here and for the experiences I have made. Depaul will forever hold a special place in my heart.
For more volunteer opportunities click here