Social Work BSc students have two practice placements during their course; the first in the private, voluntary or independent sector for 70 days.
Placements are organised by the practice learning coordinator and the social work lecturing team. Places are organised in Brighton & Hove and across Sussex and Surrey – students are then invited to provide details of their interests and experience and then a matching process takes place.
Second year social work student Elsie Foster was matched with local charity Stay Up Late. The charity helps people with learning difficulties to stay up late and have some fun, arranging ‘buddies’ to make this happen.
Elsie tells us about her placement experience, the benefits to her studies and how it led to a starring role in a short film about disability:
“Carrying out my second year placement at Stay Up Late enabled me to see another side to social work practice. Most of the work I did with people was informal and I was able to build relationships in different ways for example by going to gigs with people in the evenings and doing other activities during the day such as going to the zoo, the aquarium and partaking in music workshops.
“My experience of working at Stay Up Late allowed me to explore a more informal approach to working in order to build effective relationships. I also learned a lot about working with adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to ensure that they are able to lead active social lives and are able to make choices. Whether that is choices about what time they go to bed, relationships, jobs or the support they receive.
“During my placement I was invited to have a role in a short film. The film was about people’s attitudes to disability and it made me think a lot about the impact it can have.
“I think most of the time, people aren’t even aware that the way they are speaking to someone is discriminatory which is why videos like this are so important to challenge people’s attitudes and to hopefully make them think and act differently.
“The video is a brilliant reflection of what Stay Up Late are about as a charity and their manifesto for an ‘ordinary’ life. Yes, adults with learning disabilities / autism do stay up late. They do swear, they do drink alcohol and most importantly they want to do these things.”
Watch the film:
On her Social Work BSc course Ellie said:
“I really enjoy studying social work at Brighton and I’m so glad I chose it! The lecturing staff have been so supportive and motivating, I’m not sure what I would have done without them! They’re all very approachable if you have any problems with your placement, university or personal issues.
“The facilities at Brighton are amazing and I particularly love Falmer campus and how peaceful it is.
“The placements are organised really well – sometimes you may have to travel a little bit out of Brighton but it’s worth it. I was really nervous about my first placement but the staff were really good at answering my questions and reassuring me.
“The university is really good at taking on board feedback from students on the course and asking our views in order to make any future improvements.”
Elsie is now on her final placement of the course in a statutory children and families service.