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What's it like doing a social work placement at P3?

25 February 2021

Bianca is in her second year studying a social work degree at the University of Derby. Here, she talks about her four-month placement at P3's Derbyshire Independent Living Service, and the benefits of having to adapt during Covid-19.

At first I was a bit apprehensive, but I’m really genuinely glad I got this placement. Because I didn’t know what to expect from a non-statutory placement, it really exceeded my expectations!

I started at the end of October 2020, with two days based at the hub in Ilkeston and I had people I would meet there regularly on a Monday and Wednesday. The other days I was at the shared house on Nottingham Road [Long Eaton] and that was very different to the drop-in, as they’re people who have long-term support. It was really good experience seeing it from both sides.

On paper, it’s tenancy-related issues, but once I was working with people it was much more than that. With P3, you can see that the people who work there are working there because they genuinely care about people, not just because it’s a job. The people who use the service are at the core of the service which is obviously how it should be. In some environments, it’s more money-related, whereas with P3, staff went above and beyond for everybody.

One young guy I worked with had just moved into the shared property from his own home, so it was about him integrating into this new shared house and everybody accepting him as well. He had some behavioural issues and because he has learning disabilities, his mental age is different to his actual age, so he received a bit more intensive, one-to-one support.

On my last three weeks I saw a huge improvement. We’d learned his likes and interests and how those things support him. So I would spend half an hour with him playing board games a couple of times a week … His behaviour really improved, his whole demeanour is much happier. That was a big breakthrough because I think everyone was quite worried about how he was going to cope, so that was a good high for me to leave on.

Studying during the pandemic

It was a bit hard to adapt to studying online, but I think now it’s sort of the norm. I’ve got two children as well and they were homeschooling at the beginning of the pandemic so it was a struggle. We’re all working as hard as we possibly can do in these strange times.

I’ve been speaking to some other students who got virtual placements, so they didn’t really get to see people face to face. I was so grateful for the practical side I got to see at P3, and the ‘realness’ of it … in these times when everything’s changing because of Covid it was good to see how the services adapt to it, and we had to adapt along with it.

We had to deal with PPE, with people being off very rapidly because they’d been in contact with Covid, and it did have an effect on people but we managed to work with it well, I think. The people we support were at the heart of it so their needs were met straight away.

It was great experience, and good for me as a social work student because no two days are going to be the same when I am a qualified social worker - I feel like this gave me a real insight into what it would be like!