Social Work student, Sean Craythorne: "I have grown personally and have made a great group of friends"
"Social work is a degree that gives students a wide range of skills to help alleviate problems that people face in their lives. I made the decision to study later in life, as I wanted more time to develop personally. I felt the need to give back to society as I had a privileged background and wanted to help people discover their full potential."
Sean was under no illusions about the challenges in the profession, but he understood the huge impact that social workers can make on a variety of levels. "I felt a deep empathy for the way that the social workers were being treated in the media and wanted to be part of a profession that was clearly understaffed and underappreciated."
When he started at LSBU, the University had just invested in a range of new facilities. The new K2 building had just opened and improved library facilities, student union, and lecture rooms all followed. "It was good to be part of the development and growth of the institution. I also noticed a huge influx of foreign students, which gives credence to London's diverse culture. The new student facilities are a great space to relax and socialise with friends."
Sean found that teaching methods allowed independent thinking such as self-directed learning and seminars. Social work as a profession that demands a lot of independent thinking, so the structure and teaching of the course gave students the ability to do so. The teaching undertaken by qualified social workers working in the field gave Sean more understanding of the true nature of the profession.
Part of the course is spent on placements, designed to support the theory taught in the classroom. "I soon realised on placements that it takes a certain level of maturity to make the placement your own. Essentially you gain as much or as little from the placement as you wish, depending on the amount of personal input."
There was one particular experience that brought this reality home to Sean. "I worked with a family from Africa that used inappropriate methods to discipline their autistic son. I undertook an initial assessment and had to make recommendations on how to proceed. I had to consider culture, cultural differences in child rearing, parental capacity and parental and cultural understanding of learning difficulties. The true test of my work was with the boy's mother around her acceptance of her child's disability. I realised that in order to work with the family, I had to be empathetic to the mother, and work with her to unite the family unit."
Sean has now applied and been accepted at another university to do an MA in International Child Studies. His long-term desire is to help influence the profession on a policy level and help to make positive changes to the work of being a social worker. As a consequence of this course, Sean is now in a stronger position to fulfil these aims.
"The course was academically challenging, but it allowed me to develop reflection, which is applicable to everyday situations, not just the social work profession. I have grown personally and have made a great group of friends."