Students Staff

8 June 2018

Successful Community engagement for Social Work students

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 10:23 am

Collecting sanitary products for homeless people in Southend is just the latest in a long line of successful community projects by undergraduates on the BA Social Work at Southend Campus.

Every year students are allocated areas of the borough to explore and engage with local people as a valuable part of Community Study, often resulting in innovative partnerships which leave a lasting impression on local people.

This year Melissa Dube, a first year BA Social Work student, from Laindon, linked up with South Essex Homes, the arms length housing Management Organisation for Southend Borough Council. As part of their work together Melissa asked staff and students to donate products to Homeless Period and collected three boxes of sanitary items.

Melissa Dube

Melissa said: “Everyone was very keen to donate. I plan to get involved in this in the longer term and it is important for students and staff to get involved in the local community.”

Lecturer Gert Scheepers said: “It is a vital part of the student experience for the undergraduates to engage with their local community.

“We capture all the information they gather and share it with Southend Borough Council. It is used to influence their practice in the borough and brings different voluntary organisations to their attention.”

Nick Constantine (Transformation Manager) for Southend Borough Council said: “Working with the tutors and students of the University of Essex Social Work degree course is an important part of the Adult Services Transformation programme which has immediate impacts on the workforce and practical applications.

“Through the Community Study the students experience having strength-based conversations, get to know the community assets and needs and share those with social workers, partners and the transformation team, through the mentoring relationship, workshops and presentations throughout the year.

“The students benefit by honing their skills and generating attitudes aligned with the transformation programme so that when they enter the profession this approach comes naturally to them while their enthusiasm and stories ripple across the existing workforce supporting the change process.”

Gert Scheepers

Another first year BA Social work Community Study project included an equally beneficial encounter when a student got chatting to allotment holders, puzzled about what to do with their surplus fruit and vegetables.

She connected the green-fingered gardeners with a local group that is able to share fresh produce with those in need.

During the 2016/17 academic year, the Social Work team also organised a bra collection for the local branch of Soroptimist International which sends the garments to Kenya to be sold by women to empower them to be independent.

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