We catch up with Social Work BSc graduate Jules Cave and ask her about her time at Brighton and what she’s been up to since graduating:
Why did you choose to study social work?
I spent some years caring for a family member whilst working and this was followed by fifteen years in the health service. I became more interested in a person’s social context and wanted to explore this. As I became older, I also became more politically active.
For me there was a correlation between the social and political worlds. Social work aims to explore, question and understand those worlds and the people within them. I feel social work chose me rather than I chose social work.
Why did you choose the University of Brighton?
As an older student I had been out of education for quite some-time. I appreciated that the course entry requirements valued life experience as well as academic qualifications.
When I had my interview at the university, I was struck by the lecturers welcoming and friendly spirit.
Brighton is a great place to live. It’s lively if you are looking for cafes, pubs, clubs and shops; but it also offers the peace and tranquillity of the South Downs. Importantly, it has a beautiful beach where you can just hang out and relax.
What did you enjoy most about the course?
I really did enjoy everything about the course.
If I had to choose a specific area of study, it would be the theories associated with social work. Taking part in seminars/lectures that opened up different ways of seeing and thinking about the world was a wonderful experience.
Each lecturer has a chosen field within social work that they are passionate about. Their passion resonates when they are teaching. Importantly, there was also the opportunity to talk/work with people of lived experience of social workers/social services. This was invaluable.
Can you tell us a bit about your placements and how they helped you?
The first placement I had was with a local charity supporting younger people who may be at risk of becoming homeless. I had anxieties about working with this age group however, I absolutely loved this placement. It opened my eyes to some the obstacles that younger people face regarding housing. I also learnt about housing law. It provided a good foundation to work with and get to know other local services; and the professionals within those services.
The second placement was a complete contrast. It was a statutory placement. I was working within a multi-disciplinary team made up of clinical/social work professionals. The team supported people experiencing mental health difficulties.
During the placement, supervision became a crucial safe space to think about applying theory to practice and evidencing chosen interventions. The weekly student reflection group provided extra learning and support from the practice educators. The PCF and the Social Work England Professional Standards became tangible and applicable.
The learning from both placements was invaluable.
How did you find studying at Brighton?
Falmer campus itself is situated in the South Downs and I loved spending time in the library studying whilst being able to look out over the Sussex countryside. The library itself offers quiet spaces as well as rooms and areas to meet for group work.
You can take out as many as 99 books if you wish to. There are also books that are available to read online; just as there are academic articles.
The school now has its own study area too which is a bonus.
What were the staff like?
The lecturers want you to succeed. They are knowledgeable and supportive and their door is always open.
Importantly, the lecturers themselves keep on top of all the latest research connected to social work, or, they are researchers themselves.
What difference did the course make to your future and your career?
The social work course has quite honestly changed my life. I am finally doing a job that does not feel like work; it is a passion and a privilege. It is certainly never boring as there is always learning and development to be had.
Having a social work degree opens many avenues of practice to explore and opportunities to progress your career to senior social worker and more.
What have you been up to since you graduated?
When I graduated, I found a job straight away. I work within a substance usage service within the statutory sector.
I am on the Assisted Year of Supported Employment (ASYE) programme where I have a protected case load which enables the time for further learning and development. I have regular supervision and take part each month in the ASYE reflection group. I complete a portfolio which is assessed by a supervisor and practice educator.
What would you say to anyone thinking about applying for this course?
The course is hard work, but the rewards are enormous if you stick with it. Utilising the knowledge and skills of others on the course is important, as is tapping into the lecturers to support with learning.