Claire - Step Up to Social Work
Hi Claire, why did you decide to become a social worker?
After working in Wiltshire schools for many years, I wanted a role whereby I could continue my love for working with children and families but also work across a wider age range in Wiltshire’s diverse community.
What has the support been like while you’ve been training?
Your supervisor and practice educator is always on hand (even during a pandemic) and everyone in the team wants to answer your questions. Early ICT training and introductions to Wiltshire systems and procedures ensured that both formal meetings and ‘in the moment’ get-togethers could be arranged easily.
Wiltshire staff were present during induction at university which cemented a clear link between the academic and practice elements of Step Up. Regular peer supervision and student drop-in sessions have helped us feel connected as a group – they offer a different perspective, a chance to share experiences, and most importantly, a chance to relax a little and often to laugh.
What are the challenges?
Step Up is fast-paced and the time commitment is intense. Studying for academic modules whilst on full time placements means that you must be prepared to sacrifice some of your own time during evenings and weekends. This undoubtedly has an impact on your own family and you definitely need their full support and understanding to succeed; I would say that starting Step Up should be a decision made with your support system.
What are the highlights?
You are part of the team straight away. Both of my placements have been incredibly welcoming – they want you to do well and believe in you. Travelling around the entirety of the county whilst on placement has reaffirmed how beautiful Wiltshire is. I have visited tiny villages, large towns, military barracks and have discovered places I didn’t know existed despite having been brought up in Wiltshire myself. In all of these places I have met both families and professionals who have introduced me to aspects of Wiltshire life I wasn’t previously aware of and I have discovered so many new community opportunities. I have made four friends for life in our little ‘Wiltshire Step Up Group’. I feel like we have shared a very special 14months and know we will continue to keep each other going both professionally and personally during our ASYE year.
What has it been like training during the pandemic?
Who knew that I could complete a post-graduate qualification, work full time and home school my own children all at the same time?! The pandemic has definitely presented some challenges as community resources are limited and teams have learned to communicate in new ways. I feel as if I’ve adapted alongside the rest of the team; it was new to everyone so we’ve worked on it together and it certainly hasn’t prevented me from learning.
The pandemic has prevented Wiltshire students from accessing the university campus which has caused some element of disconnection. The structure of the course has also been altered many times, as it has been adapted to being online, which at some points has caused a bit of uncertainty. I do, however, feel that university have tried their best to support us throughout, listening to our feedback and tailoring the academic work as best as possible.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a social worker?
If you feel it’s right then go for it! Step Up respects your professional background and helps you transfer your skills so that you can start a new and exciting career.
Any other messages you’d like to share?
We were lucky enough to be given Siobhan Maclean and Rob Harrison’s Theory and Practice: A Straightforward Guide for Social Work Students (2015) as part of induction. This has been a ‘go to’ book throughout the course and is a great first read if you’re wondering where to start. Siobhan Maclean’s You Tube videos are also well worth a watch.
Read more about the Step Up to Social Work programme