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Sunday 19 November 2023

University Of Brighton Graduate Helps Train Sierra Leone's First Physiotherapists

Physiotherapists in training in Sierra Leone will soon be getting some of the learning resources they desperately need for their studies, thanks to the dedication of a University of Brighton graduate and the help of the University's library staff.

Desmond Macauley, who graduated with an MSc in Rehabilitation Science from the University in 2012 and who is originally from Sierra Leone, approached staff in the University of Brighton's Queenwood Library on its Eastbourne campus earlier this year with a proposition: to set aside any physiotherapy textbooks that were no longer needed by the University, so that he could use them to set up a medical library at the Tonkolili District College of Health Sciences in the country's Northern Province.

The library staff quickly got to work, searching through stock that was due to be withdrawn for books that might fit the bill. 

By July they had gathered together around 150 books, which Desmond drove down from London to sort through and collect. 

"He came in a Mini," said Mary Bartholomew from the University's library services team. 

"He put the back seat down and put the books in the back of the car. It's surprising how much can go into one of those cars!"

The University's library stock is constantly being monitored and updated where necessary; the donated books come from stock that would in the ordinary course of things have been withdrawn from library shelves, perhaps because there was a newer edition or because the texts were no longer on reading lists.

"Usually books that are withdrawn go to a company who either recycle them or sell them on, so this was obviously a more specific approach," Mary said. 

"Desmond was obviously very pleased about it, because previously he's been buying books himself. 

"Looking at the pictures he sent of the library being built really shows the contrast of the availability of resources."

Desmond doesn't just buy and ship books to his home country; he also takes time away from running his physiotherapy and sports injury clinic in Battersea to go out each year and help train the students in person.

"In 2022 and 2023 I spent time in Sierra Leone doing clinical training, mentoring, supervising final year dissertations and sponsoring physiotherapy students who are the first to be trained in the country," Desmond said. 

"Additionally, I provide support towards the development of BSc and Diploma academic training for physiotherapy students in Sierra Leone, as well as contributing to funding for students' continuing professional development and welfare."

Desmond will be returning to Sierra Leone in January. In the meantime, Queenwood Library staff have continued to set aside stock for him to take along. 

"We've got a couple of trolleys' worth and we'll contact him again when we have enough," Mary said. 

"It's very satisfying to be able to do. He's so passionate about what he believes in."

by: Mike Cobley


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