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[Students on the module] shouldn’t worry too much because people are always willing to help if they need it and they are capable of more than they think.
Picture of Janine Spackman

Tell us about your placement:

I secured this placement after it was advertised by Work Based Learning. My main duties have involved sitting with various family groups and talking to them. I also helped to set up for events and have also been asked to research the benefits of peer support for the charity to allow them to gain more funding. I have also been asking members to fill out a form to explain what they think are the benefits of peer support to both themselves and others. The most enjoyable aspect of the placement are spending time getting to know people and listening to their individual stories and struggles. I have enjoyed getting advice and being able to read up on information that I believe will help me become more able to support others in the future. The most challenging aspect of the placement is the research aspect because I have to think about what sort of information would be useful and also find the best way to lay out the information.

What skills have you developed whilst on placement?

I have developed communication and listening skills as I have spent time listening to members. It is important to give your full attention to what someone has to say without interrupting or bringing up your own issues. I have developed both time-management and ICT skills through my research project because I have done most of my research through online journals and articles and have had to balance this with other work and going to groups in order to make sure that I have got everything done on time.

How has your placement prepared you for your future career?

My placement has prepared me for my future career because I am planning to go into something relating to counselling or therapy. This role has helped me to develop my listening and communication skills and I have also been provided with information on how to deal with certain issues that people might face, such as mental health issues or coping with the death of a loved one.

What have you learnt about yourself during placement?

This placement has allowed me to learn about some of the skills that I still need to develop. I have learned that even though I follow directions well, I sometimes struggle to show initiative and know what to do when I haven’t got particular instructions. I also realised that even though my communication skills have improved a lot over the years, I still struggle with confidence, especially when I’m put on the spot. I have learned that I tend to do better than I think I will at interacting with people, especially with children.

What were your expectations before starting your placement?

Before my placement I expected that a lot of my time would be taken up by sitting with the different family groups and that I would have to do all of my research at home. This has been partly met but there are different activities that I didn’t expect to take part in and I have also managed to find more time than expected during the work day where I can sit and complete my research. I have also involved the members in my research instead of just using journals and articles that I find online as evidence.

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

I would advise that they think about the ways that the role would relate to their chosen career and to do something that genuinely interests them. I would also say that they shouldn’t worry too much because people are always willing to help if they need it and they are capable of more than they think.

How would you sum up your placement experience?

This has been a great experience because it relates to what I want to do in the future and has allowed me to develop some important skills. It has also allowed me to do something that I feel makes a difference to others.