Shining a light on Social Work placements
By Nicole Davies, Senior Lecturer and offsite educator of social work practice
I’ve worked as an offsite practice educator of BA and MA social work students for a number of years, with a wide range of organisations, and I can definitely, hand on heart, say that working with VOICES is always my favourite.
The focus of my practice with students is all about empowering, about supporting them to identify strengths and to make changes where necessary, all to best equip them for success in the future – exactly what the VOICES ethos seeks to do with, and for, every customer. Even though not yet qualified, the students have a real opportunity at VOICES to start making a difference. They are supported to grow, to push their comfort zone whilst they learn, but always in the knowledge that they can ask for help if anything starts to feel like too much.
Moreover I feel supported too – my job, going as I do around many different PVI sector providers, can be an isolating one, fragmented and peripheral, but at VOICES there is always a warm welcome for me too – a cup of tea and helpful smiling faces ready to listen.
No matter how complex and unpredictable the work, or how distressing (and stressful) the day they are having, the team pull together and offer peer support, creating a positive atmosphere in the office. They directly take this positive, yet realistic, attitude out to work within the wider City with customers, and I have been privileged on many occasions to accompany them doing this – taking me right back to my roots as a social work practitioner as I observe the student and see how well they are doing and the fantastic relationships they make with people who, from their life experience, have every reason to be mistrustful and suspicious, and will only engage with VOICES, no other service.
It is all too easy, in these days of ever increasing case loads and lack of resources, rising homelessness and addiction and pressure on services, to fail to see those absolute beacons of light along the way, that glimmer in the increasingly encroaching darkness. VOICES provides that light, a light we should celebrate and shout about, and say “I noticed you – you shone for me”.
Shine on everyone, shine on.
Having recently completed a placement with VOICES, student social worker Chelsea commented,
“I have really enjoyed my time at VOICES, the team are very friendly and helpful, any time you need anything I know I can just ask they are really welcoming. I’ve learnt how to work with people experiencing multiple needs which I have not done before, and have also gained experience in how to build professional relationships. Being at Voices has been beneficial and the experience will help me to grow as a Social worker.”