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Tell us about your placement:

I applied for the placement through one of the advertisements found on the Work Based Learning Moodle space. My main task while on placement was to talk to the members of the shed and help them with anything they needed at the time. This could be anything from helping them with their project, giving advice/counselling or just a conversation. The most enjoyable aspect is seeing the positive affects my presence was having on the members. As many of them are retired they seemed to enjoy seeing an unfamiliar face. As well as this I was very grateful that Graham allowed to me to sit in on 1-1s with members as it was very rewarding seeing people’s mental health improve and knowing I had a part to play in allowing that to happen. The most challenging part was learning how to adapt to suit the needs of each of the members as there were people from various backgrounds with various reasons for attending the shed.

What skills have you developed whilst on placement?

I have developed my ability to work under pressure and communication skills, as there is a lot of pressure that comes alongside working with vulnerable people, and doing this ethically and effectively cannot be done without good communication. I have also further developed my ability to work well in a team, as the volunteers work collaboratively to assist all members in the shed, and also my customer service skills as all members are paying to be there so deserve an enjoyable experience.

How has your placement prepared you for your future career?

Before my placement I had never had the opportunity to work with vulnerable people, and this is now something I am a lot more comfortable with. It has also showed me that I am capable of achieving my future career as it is not something that I have found difficult, only rewarding.

What have you learnt about yourself during placement?

I have learnt that I have the ability to reach people even when they are much older than me. I have often been told that I am a good person to talk to and that I give good advice, however, I didn’t think this would ever extend to people from generations before mine as I have far less life experience. However, this wasn’t the case and I was lucky enough to have some members come back to me and tell me that I had helped them.

What were your expectations before starting your placement?

I was unsure about what to expect before starting placement as I had never heard of a men’s shed before starting the placement. The only expectation I had was that I would be working with vulnerable people and assisting them either with crafts or helping them around the shed.

What advice would you give to students embarking on Work Based Learning?

Try and apply for placements as soon as possible as it is unlikely that you will get accepted for the first one you apply for. Also keep in contact with the WBL department and ask for a meeting if you are unsure of anything, this was something I found very helpful, not only for placement but for the future.

How would you sum up your placement experience?

My experience at Woodwork to Wellness has given me some challenges that improved my skill set, and it has also been very rewarding.