Trowbridge Social Work Students Get Involved In Community Projects

Trowbridge Social Work Students Get Involved In Community Projects

The first year students presented on their 30 day practice placements, where they have been undertaking projects negotiated with a range of agencies within the region. The 20 minute presentations were delivered to other students on the programme, agency personnel, service users, professional social workers and the programme team.

The projects took place at a range of local services – Julian House Project, Bath; The Black Archive Project in Chippenham, Salisbury and Trowbridge; The Ordinary Life Project Association (OLPA), Warminster; Wiltshire Supported Living Project; PACE, Frome and the Getting a Life Project, Yeovil.

Julian House is the leading provider of services to single homeless men and women in Bath & North East Somerset and West Wiltshire. Erin Dixon, Chimene Cann and Lisa Walters spent their placement following up on a street audit from September 2009 which was carried out as part of a Government Strategy to reduce rough sleeping by 2012. The students compiled an in-depth questionnaire which they took to rough sleepers in Bath. The results highlighted gaps in services – homeless people have nowhere to go at certain times of day when Julian House is closed.

The Black Archive Project in Salisbury, Chippenham and Trowbridge involved 12 students in two teams. This brand new project celebrates the diversity of the county of Wiltshire. It enabled individuals to share their experiences of their childhoods and of life in Wiltshire. They spoke to mainly African-Caribbean older people and produced a calendar and a DVD.

The Ordinary Life Project Association (OLPA) is a registered charity that provides a range of housing and support options for people with learning disabilities. Claire Farley and Angela Barter devised a ‘compliments, comments & complaints’ form for service users who were initially consulted to find out what was important to them. Claire & Angela then personalised the form for each OLPA house with photos of key staff, making it more human and accessible to the service users. They also added phone numbers in large type and produced a service user guide DVD.

Claire Farley said “The placement was absolutely brilliant. I had never worked with people with learning difficulties before and it has opened up new horizons to me in what I might choose to do after my Degree. It was a great opportunity for me to work alongside Sarah, a ‘real’ Social Worker. I gained a good awareness of local charities and got to know the social dynamics among the service users as well as the houses all over the area. It was fun, friendly and not at all daunting as I first imagined it may be.”

Sarah Davis, Service Coordinator at OLPA added “It’s fabulous to have new people here as a way of approaching new ideas and the students got really involved in the project. I did the Degree course at Wiltshire College Trowbridge myself, so it’s great that I can link in with these students and show my commitment to the College.

The service users also benefit from the student placement – it shows them that Social Workers are nice people! Everyone has been so positive about the DVD that the students made. We’ll go on as an organisation to make more and it’s a real benefit to us and the users that the focus group set up by Claire and Angela is still running.”

The team of three students who worked with the Wiltshire Supported Living Project focussed on how people with learning disabilities are perceived and often patronised. The presentation by Seth Mutambara, Claire Hearne and Lorraine Horler used both theory and practical display to demonstrate their points.

At PACE (Personal Achievements and Creative Experience) in Frome, Emma James and Angela Callander created the Frome Disability Directory for disabled people in the town and surrounding areas. It includes information about finances, support groups, pubs and restaurants among other services. It is available in various public buildings around Frome and it is hoped, if successful, it will roll out across the country.

At the ‘Getting a Life’ Project in Yeovil Erin Robinson and Nobuhle Ngulube worked with ‘South Somerset Work Preparation’ at Fiveways – a work preparation centre for those with learning difficulties. ‘Getting a Life’ is a three year cross Government project being pioneered in 12 sites country-wide. The students created profiles for the service users at Fiveways, showing them at work, which it is hoped will be useful to future employers.

Tony Singleton, Team Leader at South Somerset Work Preparation said “the students got involved in the Getting a Life project and were the first to initiate the customised profiles. Having done that successfully, we can now build on their hard work, carrying it forward. Successful profiles should make it easier for employers to see the service users’ skills and abilities more clearly, giving them better opportunities to find and sustain employment.”

Liz Bord, Practice Learner Manager from Wiltshire Council attended the presentations. She is involved in the arrangement of social work placements both in the public sector and with independent services. She said “From the students’ point of view placements enable them to embed academic learning into practice. It gives them a flavour of different styles of social work and settings. It’s an enjoyable part of their course – they enjoy making a contribution to the lives of the service users. The placement providers find it useful to have students who bring in fresh ideas, enthusiasm and up-to-date knowledge.

In terms of recruitment, Wiltshire College is a really good source of for Wiltshire and Somerset Council. It provides excellent students who’ve gone on to have good careers.”

Michael Chard, Wiltshire College Lecturer for BSc Social Work added “ A number of the agencies who had students said that they wanted to have further groups of students next year. So the process is self perpetuating and is strategic in developing partnership links with a wide range of agencies. This benefits communities, service users, agencies, students on the programme and the College. “

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