Thanks again, to the guest author of this who is a current first year social work student. I’m sharing these pieces not only because they are fantastic but because it allows for another perspective from a social work student! Enjoy – cb
Notes from a small placement
Know then, O reader, that I have taken passage for service land, and
am currently trying not to overly hinder the lifecycles of the
(un?)fortunate young people who cross my path, not to mention the rest
of the staff.
I am really enjoying being on my first placement, and I keep wondering
whether it has really only been just over a month already. Being in an
unfamiliar setting and working with an unfamiliar user group is really
enervating for me as there’s so much to learn. But I think in common
with my cohort, I’m feeling very what they call ‘deskilled’ right now.
I wasn’t for the first few weeks, too much to learn and figure out
about the agency, but now I’ve actually had a chance to do some work
with some of the young people I’m wondering at the back of my mind
whether I can hack this as a career.
There isn’t any real basis for that, my feedback has been positive,
they’ve let me take the lead on some assessments, and I’ve enjoyed the
face to face sessions (I’m not sure if enjoyed is the right word since
it’s not for my entertainment but you do feel good when a session goes
well). I’m hoping that it’s just a passing phase that I can work
through by making special efforts to focus on the things I’m worrying
about. I’m also pretty sure that if I mention this to my practice
assessor she’ll say that it should be good material for reflection.
Maybe it is because I feel as though I’m seeing ways in which the
system isn’t working for these young people, and I’m part of it now
too. I did comment after one of the assessments that if it was down to
me, I’d offer them all places. The other project worker softened, just
for a moment, and said that everyone feels like that.
I was particularly taken by How not to do Social Work’s piece about
becoming a legal adult that cb linked to on Saturday. It’s been on my
mind recently, which I suspect is the case for everyone working with
young people. One instance was a conversation with a youth justice
worker who commented airily, “In 8 weeks I won’t have to do this any
more,” in reference to one young person’s 18th birthday, and the other
was one of the YP commenting to me drily, “I’m 18 now so social
services won’t bother.” And at the same time, reflecting that some
people are so much more mature at 18 than others.
Besides that, I’m learning all sorts of useful skills such as being
able to detect cannabis smoke from 20 paces, sub Olympic sprinting
(had to run out of the house to catch someone for a chat), obscure
details of housing law, foodstuffs most likely to engage young people
of the majority local cultural background (fried breakfasts and
pizza), and the first names of all the local community police team.
One thing I have also noticed is that I’m paying much more attention
to young people around me when I’m not in the placement, whether it be
on TV, on the train, in town, or when people talk about their
families. Just sort of general observations about how they dress,
talk, act towards each other and other people and how other people act
towards them too.
I am also finding, on a more positive note, that whilst labels can be
punishing, student social worker is a label that can open doors. I
have phoned up a few local agencies (signposted by my supervisor) and
all of them have been more than happy to have me round for a day to
explain what they do and how they work.
So now all I have to worry about is meeting the various GSCC
requirements and producing whatever paperwork is required, plus essays
for college and trying not to think too much about what the employment
situation is going to be like next year! I’ve met two qualified social
workers so far from last year’s cohort who are both working as support
workers to keep their registration active until more jobs come
available. They all advise to focus on children and family work to
maximise job prospects, which isn’t really my main interest.
Having said that, working with young people is really enervating, and
it’s quite telling that all the professionals I’ve met, regardless of
their experience or qualifications, seem to really love their job and
working with this client group. If I can stay focussed on that, and
all the various projects we’ve been thinking up , there’s so much we
could do over the next few months. It is, as they say, a good learning
- Life as a Social Work Student 2 – Beginning the Placement (fightingmonsters.wordpress.com)