I chose the University of Birmingham for several reasons. Firstly, the social work programme offered at the university of Birmingham is one of the oldest social work programmes in the country. With that amount of experience, I thought they would have lot to offer.
Secondly, I was very impressed with the University of Birmingham’s strategic partnership with the eleven local authorities through its West Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership. As it would mean that the lectures would not be limited to theories and abstract teachings but would also be informed by the day to day frontline practice as practitioners from the field would come to lectures and share their experiences. Besides that, the university has its own train station. At that time, I did not drive, on top of that I lived at Nuneaton, so a university with its own train station meant that I would be able to save time on travelling.
Why did you choose to study Social Work and does it continue to impact on your experiences?
I was particularly drawn to the social work profession because the social work value of social justice resonates deeply with my own personal value. Working as a social worker would allow me to work in ways that are congruent with my own values. Previously, I worked as a counsellor for about 9 years, during that time, I had met some amazing social workers who brought about meaningful changes in people’s lives and that inspired me to pursue a profession in this field.
What are your fondest memories of your time at Birmingham?
One of my fondest memories was during the Survivor’s arts project, where service users, carers, professionals and student social workers were supposed to work collaboratively and at the end of the programme, we had to sing a song together. At that moment, as we all sang the song together, I felt a sense solidarity among us. Although we came from different social locations with different life experiences, there was no them and us divide, instead we were driven by a sense of commitment towards the same goal.
Did you participate in extra-curricular activities, if so how have these helped you in your current career?
I had signed up for a mentoring scheme where I was paired up with Amanda, a child protection social worker, as my mentor. I do not have anyone from my family or friends outside of the University with whom I could talk about social work so having a mentor was an invaluable experience. Amanda provided me with top tips on how to utilise my university experience in order to support my future carer. She also gave me advice on preparing for interviews. With this support, I was able to secure an ASYE (assessed and supported year in employment) social work position at two local authorities even before I graduated.
Describe your current role and organisation
I am currently undertaking Doctor of social work at the University of Birmingham. While I was on the final year of master’s degree, with encouragement from my supervisor, Prof. Harry Ferguson, I had applied for the doctoral studies. To my delight I was offered a full scholarship by the university. Besides being a full-time student, I also work as an agency worker at Special Education Needs and Disability Information Advice and support service (SENDIASS). This opportunity was presented to me while I had my final placement at SENDIASS as a student social worker. Currently, I am also involved as a research assistant with a project, LOCALITES, Civil Society & Employability in Diverse Areas.
What one word would you use to describe the University of Birmingham?
“Full of opportunities” (Sorry its three words)