TEMPLEPATRICK woman Susan Semple, who was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, said she was surprised and delighted with the accolade.
Susan was awarded the MBE for services to Healthcare in Northern Ireland for her work with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. The 56-year-old is Healthcare Co-ordinator on the Trust’s Single Homeless Health Care project which is a nurse-led initiative aimed at improving the health and healthcare experience of all homeless people living within the Belfast Trust area.
From 1999, and under Susan’s guidance, the service has expanded from four hostels in north and west Belfast to 26 facilities across the city. It provides vital healthcare services to those accessing day shelters, crash facilities, those sleeping rough and minority ethnic homeless as well as complex vulnerable people.
It is the only service dedicated primarily to meeting the physical health needs of the homeless population and has been recognised as a model of good practice by a range of organisations including the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Simon Community.
Susan said: “I was absolutely surprised when I heard that I had been nominated for an MBE. I am delighted and feel very honoured to receive this award.
“I am so proud to be part of the nursing profession and to be a nurse who has been able to make significant changes to health and the healthcare experience of vulnerable people, especially the homeless. It has been a privilege to work with and be a part of improving healthcare services for these groups - my life is the richer for this experience.”
She added: “I would also like to pay tribute to all those within our team and our multi-disciplinary colleagues who all help in making such a difference; and to the Trust’s management who believed in what I could do and to those voluntary sector services who enable true partnership working and make a difference to the life of many homeless people.”
Susan began her career in Whiteabbey Hospital in 1973 and was awarded the Nurse of the Year accolade two years later.
She then moved on to Community Nursing, based at Ballyclare Health Centre in 1986, before joining the Belfast Trust.
Susan has gone on to win a number of accolades. In 2003, she was runner-up in the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) Nurse of the Year.
The Council for Homeless Northern Ireland awarded her the Excellence in the field of Homelessness Award in 2005.
And in 2011 she was recognised again by the RCN for her outstanding achievements in Nursing.
Susan is married with four sons and three daughters-in-law, and she has one granddaughter, Lydia Grace, aged five months.