School of Health

Our Work with St George's Crypt

The provision of a weekly single session physiotherapy service to St Georges Crypt, led by Senor Physiotherapy and Sports Therapy Lecturer Dr Phil Commons, began in 2011 and has resulted in a win-win situation for both organisations.   

St George's Crypt

Homeless clients have benefitted from the on-site physiotherapy service which treated an average 5 clients per week and students from LBU have also been able to use the service to enhance and broaden their understanding of the social nature of health.


To date three masters students have based their final research projects on the work there. Two of these studies were looking at the client experience of this service whilst the third focused on what students gained from it.  The most recent project focused on client experience of physiotherapy inclusion in the HALP pathway (Homeless Accommodation Leeds Pathway) where homeless clients leaving hospital are initially accommodated at The Crypt.  This paper had before lock down, gained a platform presentation at the 2020 CSP congress with nomination for a best poster award.  The single most startling consistent report from clients participating in the research is that they care most about how they are treated, rather than the specific treatment they receive. Being welcomed, valued and cared for as a person is therapeutic in itself.

Working with a physio client at St George's Crypt

Physiotherapy student Georgina Henry completed her project on the HALP pathway at the Crypt prior to lock down in 2020. Seen here working with a client with Dr Phil Commons


Similarly, Sports and Exercise Therapy students have participated in the sessions as part of their clinical hours and one group of enterprising students led a fitness program for Growing Rooms, the addiction recovery program run by the crypt. The students have reported that the placement gave them a rich insight into the complex health needs of vulnerable clients and taught them to think more holistically around their clients’ needs. Their communication skills  have been enhanced as they gain confidence in talking to clients whose social positioning  is so very different to their own. They come away with a much greater understanding of the huge impact of homelessness on both physical and mental health and lots of food for thought around how services can be delivered in the third sector. 

Impact of Covid -19 and Look North Feature

During the lockdown period, services at the crypt have been vastly curtailed – the impact of  the pandemic on the work of the crypt and  government initiatives during this time was the  subject of a recent Look North report.  Our Physiotherapy recently restarted and Dr Phil Commons featured on the programme to ta;l about how this is being delivered in these very different circumstances: watch here.

Dr Phil Commons preparing for Look North interview

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