Elle Murphy, who grew up in Preesall, has lived in South Carolina for six years and has found her calling in life.
The 22-year-old is currently working through an 18-month internship at Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention and Prevention, which is a service of the University of South Carolina’s Student Health Services as part of her social work degree.
Whilst there, she has been learning about its support services and has seen first hand the devastating effects domestic and sexual violence has on victims.
As part of her passion to help survivors, she organised a supply drive of essential items such as toiletries, clothes and food for Sistercare, an organisation that offers shelter and support services for survivors and their children in the area.
She said: “I have been doing an internship at the advocacy and prevention centre for students and staff who are survivors of domestic violence and was able to partner with Sistercare, who is the organisation we refer people to.
“Through my work, it really hit home how pervasive the issue is. It breaks my heart to hear about all the different cases and how severe they are. College is stressful enough, so to have that added to it as well, is so heartbreaking.
“Knowing how many people are affected made me realise there was a need for this kind of work.
“It was recently Relationship Violence Awareness Month and the year before a fellow intern did a supply drive, so I wanted to do the same.
“It was important for me to bring awareness on campus for students who may be experiencing domestic violence or know someone who has.
“I put out boxes on campus at University of South Carolina and posted about it online. I was really impressed with the efforts of the students and faculty who donated.”
Elle, a former St Aidan’s C of E High School pupil, has six months left of her internship and she hopes to complete a masters in the field.
She is not shy of hard work, as to add to her 16 hours a week of unpaid internship, she works at a restaurant for 30 hours a week, where customers are fascinated by her British roots.
She said: “I work at the British Bulldog pub, so people go there to seek the British culture. They have either been to England or want to go and have a story to tell.
“I do love it over here in South Carolina. Because I live in the south, everyone is so sweet and everyone wants to talk to you and learn where you are from. Everywhere is also bigger, such as roads and the superstores.
Elle was born in the Fylde area and moved to Virginia when she was four years old because her dad, Neil, who worked at Westinghouse Springfields Fuels Ltd, in Salwick, was transferred for an international assignment.
The Murphy family returned to the Fylde area in 2003 and when her dad was offered another international assignment in 2013, they relocated again, this time to South Carolina.
Elle, who has two brothers, added: “This second time, I had finished high school in the UK and then moved to the US where there is a different education system, so I had to catch up. But college, which is equivalent to university in the UK, is a lot better. The classes are a lot bigger and I have made more friends.”