This week we’re saying goodbye to our student social worker Lara! She’s been on a 70-day placement with us, as part of her undergraduate degree at Manchester Metropolitan University.
When she first joined us in October last year, she spent two weeks getting a taste of the varied work we do here, from supporting children in the nursery to helping older residents get online. “I really enjoyed going out into the community and meeting new people, spending time with them and getting to understand the different people that ICT support.”
She quickly decided that she wanted to focus on Children and Families during her placement. Lara went on to support staff at the nursery and build relationships with parents and carers.
“I’ve definitely grown and come out of my comfort zone. Before, I was nervous about speaking to parents as I was worried they would think I didn’t understand their position as I don’t have children myself. I was able to use my experience as an older sibling to bridge that gap and connect with parents.”
Lara says she’s really proud of what she’s achieved, and rightly so! In November we launched our new weekly Stay & Play sessions at Yogurt Pots. Lara made session plans for each one, alongside the resources to go with them. It’s been a really successful project, giving children and families an opportunity to get together.
For our annual festive event in December, Lara spent time researching different festive traditions, making sure the event reflected the diversity of our communities. It was a huge success and she received great feedback from the attendees, as well as her university assessor.
However, it hasn’t always been an easy experience; “The main challenge has been battling people’s stereotypes and pre-conceptions of what a social worker does.” Lara isn’t alone in this – a survey by Frontline last year found that nearly 60% of the general public believe social workers have a negative reputation. “This is why it’s so important to build trust with the people you’re working with.”
Her advice to anyone starting their social work placement? “You need to have resilience and keep going. You’re going to come across challenges but you can’t let that put you off. You have to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.”