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I never thought I would be able to attend university, let alone graduate and become a social worker!

Siân Walker graduated in 2023 with a degree in BSc Social Work.

I became interested in social work following a role that I undertook as an administrator in a local mental health team. Seeing the support that practitioners were able to put in place for individuals struggling with their mental health was truly inspirational, and led to it being an area that I knew I wanted to work in.

Going to university to complete a social work degree seemed to be a rather large obstacle that I didn’t ever think would be possible due to academic capabilities, financial responsibilities and family life. With a lot of very supportive back and forth emails with various university staff members and the social work course lead, I chose to make the application, and following a successful interview I was offered my place on the course.

Starting university, I was a ball of nerves and my anxiety would take over, and imposter syndrome set in. Reaching out to my personal tutor showed me that the support that I received prior to application continued, and throughout the degree I was well supported by many UoG staff members including the course lead, other lecturers, and the student achievement and wellbeing team.

This was vital as the degree can be really challenging at times, both academically and personally. This was quite significant in my university journey as I was worried that being out of education for 15 years would mean I wouldn’t be able to write assignments. A few appointments with the student achievement team proved me wrong, and showed me that I was capable and needed to have more belief in myself.

The UoG social work course has definitely taken me on a journey of self-discovery, allowing me to challenge myself, my own beliefs and biases in a safe space, while building knowledge and skills for practice.

Throughout the degree I struggled to connect the learned elements of the course to the social work practice, but role plays, simulated assessments, and practice placements let me put my developing knowledge of the skills, interventions, and theories in to practice in a protected, safe environment. This was a really enjoyable experience as social work students have access to mock up properties such as Willow House, Glevum Ward, and a Moot Court, and also actors (children and adults) from a local drama group making the experience very realistic in a protected practice environment.

Experiencing these really built my confidence and allowed me to recognise that the knowledge I was building was successfully translating into social work practice, and made me feel more comfortable and readier for practice placements.

I was fortunate enough to get two very good practice placements that I really enjoyed and the experience was invaluable. My final placement with Children’s Mental Health Services has put me in good stead for the professional role I have recently accepted in a similar team.

I never in a million years thought it would be possible for me to attend university as a mature student, let alone complete a degree in social work practice, yet here I am having reached the end of the degree with my dream job lined up. This really wouldn’t have been possible without the great teaching throughout the degree and the support I have received from lecturer, David Hambling, the social work course lead, and the other course lecturers.

The most important thing that this journey has shown me is that if you want something, go for it! You may surprise yourself, as quite often you are far more capable than you could imagine.