By Jennifer Hough
A SOCIAL campaigner who yesterday received a lifetime achievement award for her work with homeless people has vowed to carry on for another lifetime.
Alice Leahy, the co-founder of charity TRUST, a social and health service set up in 1975, said it was a “great boost” to receive the National Health Literacy Award, which recognises healthcare professionals efforts to address health literacy problems.
She said it was not about her but about recognising the people she and her team meet everyday.
Winning opened doors for them and allowed their work to continue, she said.
Ms Leahy, who has received awards over the years for her work with society’s most disadvantaged people, said realising you had a lifetime of work done, it was also important to wake up the next morning and start all over again.
She said communicating with people in a simple way was paramount to helping them.
A big problem for people using services, she said, is the jargon they face.
“One phrase used now in relation to poverty is ‘case management’ but this is such a cold and meaningless term,” said Ms Leahy.
“To me language in use now is distancing people. We need to use simple language, and be crystal clear,” she said.
Ms Leahy, who last year published a book titled Wasting Time With People, said if we do not give our time, what is the point.
Dr Gerardine Doyle, UCD Business Schools and chairperson of the Crystal Clear Awards judging panel said Ms Leahy was chosen as her work embodies the ethos of health literacy.
“Alice’s work empowers those who are sleeping on the streets of Dublin, who have varying literacy levels, to access the services they need,” she said.
“The judges felt her willingness to communicate in non-conventional ways through personal contact, paintings, poems, uplifting magazines and books is inspirational, and we honour her for her ongoing dedication to a person-centred model of care.”