Social work student Karla Kern lives in a small flat with her partner and a friend – and she’s one of 30 University social work students who have volunteered to continue their placements to support the vulnerable during the pandemic.
Here, the 22-year-old final year Social Work MSc student, tells her story:
“It has been difficult to manage working from home as this used to be my space to relax which was really important as I have been juggling working at placement and doing all the assignments at the same time.
“I live in a small flat with my partner and a friend and so there is a lack of dedicated workspace. However, we are lucky enough to have a small garden so we have been making the most of this during the sunny weather.
“I wanted to continue my placement as I enjoy the work. I love discussing things with people and finding out what is important to individuals in their lives. It is particularly important at the moment to remind each other of the things that give you hope and enjoyment in your life.
“I have always loved listening to people and providing a helping hand where I can, which is currently incredibly important in order to keep society going and support the individuals who are affected by this the most. What I love about social work is that it gives you the opportunity to fight for social justice and support the rights of individuals to achieve their personal goals in life.
“I am currently doing my social work placement in Adult Social Care in Brighton. This mainly involves working with individuals who are 18 and over who have physical disabilities and complex care and support needs.
“Overall, I feel that myself and my colleagues have been managing very well, given the circumstances. It has been challenging to complete assessments and direct work with people over the phone as it takes away body language and other indicators for us to complete a holistic assessment.
“However, people have been very willing and kind over the phone to collaborate and work things out together. I think this has allowed us to look at relationship building in a different context and for myself, it has demonstrated that, if both of you are willing to work together, you can build really positive relationships with people in a short amount of time with less contact. I think this might be because the current COVID-19 pandemic is something which is affecting all of us on different levels, but this gives us something to connect and relate to one another.
“I feel very supported by my University tutor. We have had regular catchups and she has been very open about getting in touch with her with any queries or concerns. For us as students, sharing our experiences and stresses is very important as it feels like you are sharing some of the load of the pressure and stress that comes with being a social work student in your last year. It also helps you to learn new approaches or theories to work on in the future, if you are struggling with a piece of work.
“Our tutor groups consist of a check in with each person. This has been great as it gives each person the space to talk, get advice and acknowledgement from your tutor and other students. This helps to make you feel heard, particularly at the moment, I think it is important that we all feel heard and listened to. I think this gives a small insight into how our clients and service users may feel about the importance of our worries and concerns being listened to.
“I am originally from Germany and moved when I was 10 years old but this is still an important part of my everyday life. My family lives near Newcastle and it has been difficult not being able to travel to the North East to see them. However, we have been in regular contact and catch up through video calls.
“I am moving back to the North East after living in Brighton for five years. I am still unsure of what specific team I would like to work in as I enjoy working with anyone where I might be able to provide support. However, I enjoy and have an interest in working with teenagers and adolescents as this is a highly important stage of developing as a person. During adolescence, individuals shape their values and beliefs of the world through life experiences and I feel this group of individuals can often be overlooked in our society. Ideally.
“I would like to work with this group although my main aim within the social work world is to help develop practice further in the future and provide support wherever I can, to make a difference to an individual or to our society.”