Mature student Thomas Petit discusses juggling family life alongside social work

"I was driven particularly by wanting to perform a job which is meaningful for society and helps individuals towards achieving fundamental well-being. I wanted this career to help me make a difference in people's lives."

Fitting it all in

Armed with this knowledge, he applied to LSBU where he was accepted on our BA (Hons) Social work. For Thomas, it wasn't simply a case of picking an interesting course at a university with a convenient location in London. He needed to fit in studying around his family life as well, something LSBU actively considers when designing courses. "Being a mature student I found I had enough time to manage my university work as well as family life. I enjoyed that the lecturers listened to our requests and amended their course accordingly."

During the course, Thomas's wife became pregnant and was very sick for some time. However, he again found the support he needed, as lecturers realise life goes on during studying. "I am thankful for the support I received from the lecturers during that time. The whole team was amazing."

Relevant and enjoyable

Thomas took seamlessly to studying as a mature student. "All of our lecturers managed to mix a great level of theoretical knowledge and practical experience and anecdotes which made their classes relevant and enjoyable. I think LSBU's lecturers are invaluable and made learning a fun and straight forward experience. I also found the new classrooms very pleasant and well kept, recent refurbishments improved the quality of many lecture halls."

However a social work degree doesn't just take place in the classroom. Students go on a variety of placements, to gain practical experience to supplement the theory taught by lecturers.

Making a difference

One placement Thomas went on was at a local authority. 

It was a great experience as it was the opportunity to see what being a social worker would be like once qualified. I was allocated a few cases for which I had to undertake direct work with young people, their family, carers and other professionals. I experienced the challenges of dealing with difficult and confrontational characters and the joys of seeing progress and positive change in the life of some young people.

There was one case in particular that stands out for him as being both incredibly challenging but ultimately rewarding. "There was one young person who was particularly reluctant to engage with social services. "He was offending regularly and refusing to participate in anything constructive. I had to perform several visits with him, organise meetings with his family and professionals involved in his life. Most practitioners involved with him thought prison would be best for him to change but I advocated finding another solution, which took the shape of family group sessions and helped him see how people in his life cared about him.

I learnt to observe what was making him upset and worsened his behaviour, which once addressed transformed his attitude. Towards the end of my placement I had to obtain some feedback from him and I was delighted to see he had enjoyed my work with him and wished I would have remained, which also confirmed I had made a good choice picking this career."

Instantly employed

Looking back, Thomas believes his decision to change career paths and opt for social work has been validated. "This experience validated that I have picked the right career for the years to come, and highlighted my skills and areas of improvement not only professionally but also personally." Thomas found work nearly instantaneously after completing the course, in a south London borough as a newly qualified social worker.


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