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People :: Alumni :: Jennifer Speirs

Jennifer Speirs 1967

Jennifer Speirs

Certificate in Medical Social Work 1969

Graduated: 1969

Why the Medical Social Work course? I had done a Diploma in Social Study at Edinburgh (1967-1968) after obtaining a Social Science degree at St Andrew’s University and it seemed sensible to stay on and do my professional training here.

We had a heavy timetable. We thought it strange when the MSWs in our placements wished us a good weekend because we would have to work many weekends. However, there was some time for other things, in my case, lacrosse and singing.

I became aware that the MSW course at Edinburgh was held in high esteem.

After leaving the university, I worked in London hospitals for several years, took a 6-month break to travel to Cape Town by Land Rover (I had had no break between school and university and considered myself a rather boring person), worked in London again, returned to Scotland to work in local authority area teams, moved to the voluntary sector as Director of Family Care then to the Church of Scotland’s Board of Social Responsibility as a senior manager, then returned to Edinburgh University to do a PhD, followed by an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship.

I am still a registered social worker because I do sessional work in origins counselling and provide mentoring to social work colleagues. Currently, I am a tutor in Social Anthropology at Edinburgh University and working on further research grant applications.

I started a special interest group in the British Association of Social Workers which has been in the forefront of lobbying for the rights and needs of people with a personal involvement in donor-assisted conception, and conceived the idea of a contact register for such people, which BASW successfully promoted wo the UK Department of Health.