BSc (Hons) Social Work 2008
Tell us about your life before coming to the University. I attended University after my A-levels. I loved school, my friends, my family, and all the typical things you might expect - dancing, music, clothes, parties. I had a wonderful early life. Although I had a year working and travelling in between school and university, I was young and I didn't have a lot of experience or understanding of some of the issues of society that I do now, but I have always cared about 'the underdog', and react fiercly to injustice. I also always loved people, I was good at most things in school and loved learning and studying, so I came to the University of Edinburgh to study medicine.
It wasn't long before I realised I was on the wrong programme of study for me. Fascinating and challenging though medicine was, I was blown away by one module 'Health and Society'. Suddenly I started to see grey areas where I had used to see black and white. What if treating people when they became unwell wasn't the only way to help? What if I could make a difference to people's day to day lives, and empower them to find solutions themselves? After careful thought, I approached the School of Social Work and asked about a transfer onto their programme. I was delighted to be welcomed and I'm grateful even to this day.
Tell us about your time at the University. I had a fantastic time at the university. I made friends for life, I laughed so hard and I learnt so much. I loved the first two years of the course and having the freedom to study such a range of subjects. My favourite outside course was Social Anthropology - some of the content was mind bending and it definately expanded my horizons. When it came to third and fourth year, things were much more focused on the social work profession, and I was ready for that. My first placement was with young children and families from ethnic minority backgrounds, I met some amazing individuals, and will never forget the experiences and emotions of those early days of practice. In my final year I had a placement at a secure unit for young people. I ended up working there after my placement, I cared so much for those young people, and thought that it was unreal that it was actually a job to spend time with them.
Tell us about your experiences since leaving university. It's been nearly ten years since I left the university, and I'm lucky that I've had a whole range of experiences since then. I've worked in a Children and Families Practice Team - it's hard, rewarding and a place where you can't help but learn a lot very quickly. I went from there to a Throughcare and Aftercare team. That was amazing, I loved being around young people, getting to know them and building relationships (which really are the key to being a social worker). Sometimes it was hard when things didn't go well , but making a difference in young people's lives and being there to support them through difficult times is a real privilege.
I qualified as a practice teacher a few years ago, I'd recommend it if you like to learn and support others learning. I had great experiences of my own practice teachers, and I know how important their work and support are to social work students which motivates me to do my best.
About 18 months ago I started a job at CELCIS as a Policy Associate. It's a completly different role and place to work than in practice, but it's incredible. There is so much to learn, and you are surrounded by inspiring people whose work I used to quote in my essays! I've been introduced to even more ideas and perspectives, and I'm looking to undertake a Social Policy MSc as a result of what I'm learning.
I can't get over how lucky I've been so far in my career in social work in Scotland. Thank goodness I didn't become a medic, I'd have missed all the fun.
Looking ahead relationships are where things get damaged in children and families lives, and it's in relationships where they are mended. If you can be that healing relationship, great. But if you can build capacity in people to mend and strengthen their own relationships, you're doing something really amazing.
Source: own contribution (11.8.2017)