Eleanor completed her Social Work placement at a national homeless charity during the Covid-19 first wave. Find out below how she found the experience, how she was supported through the experience and what she gained out of it.

Where did you go on your placement?

I was placed at a UK national homeless charity, unfortunately due to Covid-19 restrictions organisations in Cumbria were affected badly. They would usually have hosts offering to give up a room in their homes for someone who needed short term shelter. This was no longer able to continue due to the high risk it imposed on both the hosts and the service users. Therefore, the charity could no longer take referrals and young people had to seek alternative support from other services.

How did you find the support given whilst on your placement?

My placement supervisor was fantastic and made sure I was put forward for all available training to keep me occupied and I spoke to people working within the organisation to see what other services they provided. There were times throughout my placement where I felt low and wondered whether I would be able to meet the placement criteria and pass my placement. This may seem like a negative experience however, I developed my pragmatic skills and got creative coming up with new ideas of meeting the criteria without actually working with service users. I learnt the importance of reflective supervisions and how they help and support the development of my skills.

How did the university support you whilst you were on placement?

The university held meetings to ensure we are managing on our placements and have been understanding of the challenges we have had to face throughout the year. My practice educator has been invaluable and has really supported me through the harder times on placement. They have also offered extensions and the tutors have done their best to ensure we are supported. 

The tutors have done their best to ensure we are supported. I am very proud to be a student at the University of Cumbria.

What have you learnt from this experience?

This experience has taught me to manage my stress levels more effectively and helped me to understand the importance of self-care and looking after our own well-being so we can best support others. I have a higher level of self-awareness and became a reflective practitioner. My professional confidence has grown, and I have demonstrated using various interventions such as motivational interviewing, crisis intervention and the exchange model with service users that I worked with who were on the family and support workers waiting list for mediation. I am pleased to say that I have almost completed my placement portfolio and although on track to finish at the end of February I have chosen to stay on and work through March to increase my work experience.

What would you say to others worried about going on placement?

A negative experience to some people can be positive if you have the right frame of mind and want to succeed. My placement has increased my level of determination to succeed as a student and in my future career. I have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in training and learning about other agencies, ways of working and developing my skills. 

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