My first social work placement was with a national charity organisation, working with young people aged between 16 and 25 yrs who are not currently in education, employment or training (NEET). I believe that I developed as a practitioner every day whilst on placement, and grew and changed as a professional during my time with the charity; my faith in myself as a social work student grew immensely.
On placement I had the opportunity to work as part of a small staff team and get involved in planning, implementing and evaluating our work with the young people, I had really good support on my placement and I eventually felt confident to do more focussed work both with individuals and groups. Initially I spent a lot of time building up trusting relationships with the young people despite several of them openly expressing that they didn't like social workers, my first challenge was to persist in the face of this and I believe that the turning point came when I accompanied the young people on a residential outdoor activity week; the week was very challenging and I believe that being available for the young people when they felt vulnerable secured their trust in me both as a person and as a member of staff.
I had the opportunity on placement to plan and lead several group discussions, but much of my time was spent listening to the young people and helping them to make sense of and find a way around their problems in daily life and well as supporting them to work towards the level 1 qualification offered by the charity. This gave me the chance to contact other agencies and departments, liaise with other professionals, build up my own networks and research the services in the area as well as practice my documentation skills.
I believe that one of the most valuable opportunities I had on placement was to work with 'real' service users but in a safe and supportive environment and to practice my basic social work skills. I feel that I achieved an immense amount on my placement and I am confident that I will be able to use everything I have learned as a solid base for the future.
Claire Powell, BA Social Work
Claire's experience is just one example of the placements that are arranged on our MSocW and MA Social Work programmes for the first practice learning module. Find out more about placements and the important of practice learning on our programmes: