Neil Thompson Celebrates 25 Years!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]One Stop Social have worked closely with Neil Thompson to help establish our social work membership (launched last month!) and we love recognising how he helps support our social work community. Now, as he celebrates 25 years with Macmillan International Higher Education, we’re so proud to promote that they are offering 25% off all his titles![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Yes, you read that right – 25% off ALL Neil Thompson books with Macmillan International Higher Education. This discount can be applied at the checkout with the promotional code: THOMPSON25. It’s a great chance to discover new knowledge and insight that Neil has to offer the social work community, without breaking the bank![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Neil’s experience within social work makes him a valuable voice, and his contribution to the sector through his writing and educating makes him someone One Stop Social loves to collaborate with in any way we can. Student social workers and qualified practitioners can learn a lot from his writing and online learning resources – making the offer of 25% off everything not only generous, but actually useful. Whether you’re after a guide to reflective practice like “The Critically Reflective Practitioner”, which was co-authored with Sue Thompson; or a more specific investigation of a particular ethical issue within social work, for example “Anti-Discriminatory Practice” or “Social Problems and Social Justice” – no matter the interest, Neil and his library will be here to help![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If you’re interested in consistent discounts on books from Neil Thompson then make sure to register for One Stop Social Membership. Among a whole range of other benefits (including access to a rewards platform for holidays, utilities and more; and 90% off bespoke social work insurance packages) you can enjoy 10% off all books, e-books and resources by Neil Thompson available through Palgrave, Russell House and Routledge.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_btn title=”Check out all his titles here!” color=”warning” align=”center” link=”|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Nurture Cards: Positive Affirmation Cards for children


Nurture Cards is a positive affirmation Cards Pack (toolkit) for practitioners working with Children.

A box of 40 different positive affirmation cards, designed with warm, colourful drawings. Helping children to develop self-esteem, self-confidence, and positive thoughts. Promoting kindness, thoughtfulness, smiling, learning, gratitude, helping, courage and much more.

Who Can use Nurture Cards?

Nurture cards can be used as Nurture Group resources to promote self-esteem and self confidence in children. They can be used by parents and carers as a part of everyday life or by professionals such as Social Workers, Child Therapists, Family Support Workers, teachers and those working in the medical profession. They also compliment the attachment parenting style or parenting by connection model.

The Story Behind Nurture Cards

Affirmations, are to affirm to ones self, ‘to state positively ‘.

We affirm to ourselves, different beliefs every day – positive and negative. So do those around us, though what we affirm to ourselves is more powerful. The belief system that we create is what effects our confidence, self love, self worth, our positive attitude for ourselves and the world around us.

The illustrations on Nurture Cards are designed for children to relate to, on their level. They are deliberately ’imperfectly perfect’. The emphasis is on keeping each card bright and colourful. Focusing on issues children deal with, and using words that they understand.

Roxanne Gately the designer, has done much research with counsellors, child psychologists, teachers, children and parents when developing the affirmations for Nurture Cards.

The words on each card were chosen carefully, to create powerful affirmations, each with an important message. Children are captivated by the unique and beautiful illustrations. These cards can be a helpful tool for professionals working with children or parents.

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OSS Members – get 10% off Nurture Cards

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North East Lincolnshire Council: A Social Workers Perspective (Part 1)

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We always look forward to contributions from members of our social work community, as we value hearing the opinions of social workers across the country. It’s so important to hear honest thoughts from front-line social workers about their day-to-day lives and their places of work, as it helps build a clear picture about how we can support social work throughout the UK. 

This is the first of a 2-part contribution from social workers at North East Lincolnshire Council, detailing their passion for social work and how NELC has helped them develop as practitioners. Part 1 is from Aimee Jones, an established social worker within North East Lincolnshire, who explains why she has chosen to stay and what value she feels NELC offers her professional life:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]What’s your involvement with North East Lincolnshire?

I have been a qualified social worker within the Children’s Assessment and Safeguarding Service (CASS) at North East Lincolnshire for 7 years. I first began my time in what was Family Support Service as a student in January 2011, and then secured a job whilst on placement. I then started working for the service in July 2011. During this time, we have had a few changes, a new name, new team and a new building as well as a few restructures.

CASS is a front-line child protection team, working with families from the point of referral through to the end, whether this is adoption, long term fostering or closing to no service or universal services. We hold cases at CIN, Child Protection, LAC and private law. Therefore, there is plenty of variety, plenty of experiences and no time for getting bored.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Why have you chosen to stay at North East Lincolnshire?

As with all jobs, especially in front line child protection, it is hard, and it is an emotionally draining job, some days you have that odd quiet day where you can get things done and other days it is back to back and crazy! So why stay? The reason why I have decided to stay in the job and more importantly in North East Lincolnshire is for both professional and personal reasons.

Personally, being in North East Lincolnshire, is ideal for me, it is within a 40minute drive for me to get to and from work each day. This gives me the perfect amount of time to separate work from being a Mummy. It allows me to have switch of time and try and box things off in my head on the way, of course music turned up loud always helps! It also means that I can go out and spend time being a Mummy or at a weekend and work isn’t on the door step and isn’t a constant reminder, I don’t have that worry of bumping into people that I work with when I am being me at the weekend.

Professionally, I have chosen to stay for a number of reasons, one of these being training. Since being here I have had a number of training opportunities to develop myself and have been able to attend training that follows my interests. I started before the ASYE programme commenced so training was not as formally structured as it is for new workers now. Despite this I still had a number of opportunities to explore further training that is outside of the local authority training offer. I have had the opportunity to do ABE training, as well as attending training sessions from outside speakers and professionals. We work through Signs of Safety in North East Lincolnshire and I was able to undertake the 5-day training on this as well. This is to name a very few. I have recently had the opportunity to engage in the first talent and leadership academy held within the council. This was open to all members of staff within the council at all levels to explore different leadership styles and different ways of working across a number of sectors. This again has provided me with a number of experiences. We have the SWAT (social worker action team) within the local authority, which I have had the chance to be a current chair. This is an action group who sit within the children’s social care teams to assist in the trialling of and creating different policies and implementing changes across the board to make improvements to the well-being and practical support for social workers within these areas.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]What is special about working at North East Lincolnshire Council?

As with all front-line child protection social work, it is stressful, hard work and demanding. However, within North East Lincolnshire, there is always someone around to listen, off load to and talk difficult situations through with, as well as those there to share the positives with. This can be a fellow colleague, or manager all the way up the management team. There are also other teams within the building such as fostering and adoption, through care, contact service, Children’s Disability Services, Housing and Family Group Conferencing, all of which will offer help support and guidance on any issues that crop up within the working day. People are always prepared to help and if this isn’t at the time they will find time to do so. If you put in the hard work it is recognised even when you don’t think it is being all the time. There is an element of flexibility within working in that you manage your own diary and we have compressed days. These are a bonus as once per fortnight you get a day off – giving you much needed time to chill out and recharge the batteries. Mangers at North East Lincolnshire are understanding of those with young families and children that there are times that the best made plans don’t pull through which definitely makes it easier when difficulties arise as you aren’t made to feel guilty or pressured.

Teams go through their ups and downs and I have experienced plenty within the last 7years. However, things feel good, there is more stability around, there is a real push to support social workers in reducing caseloads and getting those cases ready to close shut down, and by readjusting teams there has been an increase in quality and quantity of supervision. All in all, it’s a good place to work, I love my job and have no plans of moving any time soon.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta h2=”Find out more” txt_align=”center” color=”grey” add_button=”bottom” btn_title=”North East Lincolnshire Council” btn_color=”warning” btn_align=”center” btn_link=”|||”]If you want to find out more about the North East Lincolnshire Council and their social work team, then check out the website for details, job vacancies and more.[/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Learn From Neil Thompson

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“Writer. Educator. Adviser.” These are what Neil Thompson identifies and promotes as the key pillars of his professional identity, and with over 25 years of published works under his belt as well as an incredibly respectable reputation in social work, he can back up those claims. It’s clear this is someone you want on your team, guiding you in the right direction. Now, Neil is turning his attention to e-books and manuals to help further support social workers in new ways.

As one of the founding partners of One Stop Social Membership, we wanted to find out more about Neil Thompson and what exciting projects he’s working on.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”“For those who may be unfamiliar, what’s your background in social work?””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I started off in residential child care, working at an assessment centre. After three years I was seconded to undertake my social work training at Liverpool University. After several years as a social worker and two periods of secondment as a social work tutor. I became a team manager. Next came a stint as a training officer before entering the academic world. 21 years ago I branched out to become an independent writer, educator and adviser and I have never looked back. I tell the story of my career more fully in my e-book, A Career in Social Work.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”“How does the Social Worker’s Practice Manual support the development of students and qualified social workers?””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I regularly meet social workers (on training courses I run, for example) who tell me that they found my books useful when they were a student. I usually thank them for the compliment and then ask them: But, what about finding them useful as a practitioner? It bothers me that so often people stop reading when they qualify; they tend to see books as being for students, rather than important elements of our professional knowledge base. So, with this in mind, what I decided to do was to write a practice manual that encourages the people reading it to think in terms of how the ideas being discussed can not just be useful for quoting in a student essay, but can actually make a positive difference to the quality of our practice – and therefore to the quality of life of the people we serve.

The manual is divided into 30 sections and each one covers an important aspect of practice, outlining some key ideas and offering a perspective on how they can be used in actual practice.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”“Why was it important for you to make sure the Social Worker’s Practice Manual was an ‘unconventional’ textbook?””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I don’t like to think of it as a textbook at all, as that implies that it is geared towards a particular module on a course and will be used primarily as a means of writing essays. What this manual is all about is helping people realise that our professional knowledge base should be the foundation of our practice, not just something that gets focused on in university and then gets forgotten about. I do a lot of expert witness work these days in legal proceedings, and what I often find is that cases have gone wrong because the social work staff involved did not use their knowledge base. For example, I recently dealt with a case where a child had clearly been traumatised, but the two social workers involved seemed oblivious to this. It was actually a teacher that raised the issue of the potential impact of trauma – but, even then, neither social worker picked up on the issue. So, in a very real sense, the manual is about knowledge for use in practice, not just knowledge for use in essays. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”“Tell us a bit more about your new e-learning course: So you want to be a social worker””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In my training and consultancy work and at conferences I speak at I regularly come across people who are working in the social care sector, but who are not qualified social workers. So, a question I get asked very frequently is: What is involved in becoming a social worker? I found myself giving the same answer over and over again, so I decided to make that answer more widely available, partly so that I did not have to keep repeating myself and partly so that people I didn’t meet could know the answer too. Because I have been involved in developing a range of e-learning courses, it was quite easy for me to create a course around the process of becoming a social worker. And, that’s what I did. It should prove very helpful for anyone interested in pursuing a career in social work by giving them a clear picture of some of the DOs and DON’Ts involved.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”“Why do you think e-learning courses like: ‘So you want to be a social worker’ are becoming more and more popular?””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]E-learning offers many advantages, but probably the two main ones are flexibility and cost-effectiveness. An e-learning course means that you can do it where and when you like, whatever suits you and your circumstances. You are not limited to attending a particular course on a particular day at a particular venue. And, in terms of cost-effectiveness, it can save on travel, venue and refreshment costs and, of course, travel time.

But, interestingly, what is happening more and more is that people are using ‘blended’ learning, which means combining elements of e-learning with face-to-face training. For example, a group of staff may be asked to do an online course on, say, risk assessment and management by a certain date and then come together for a discussion about it on a particular day for a couple of hours. That way you get the best of both worlds. You get the expert input without having to pay the expert’s daily fee and expenses, but you also get the opportunity for discussion, to ask questions and so on. It can work really well.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”“Considering your experience, what’s the one piece of advice you can offer to social workers who are just starting out?” “][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]That’s an easy one to answer. What it comes down to is: Don’t lose focus! Time and again I have come across people who have lost focus on what they are trying to achieve with a particular individual or family – they have ‘lost the plot’ – and got bogged down in the complexities, losing sight of why they are there. At other times, I have come across social workers who have lost sight of their values. They get bogged down in bureaucracy and forget that they are professionals governed by a key set of values. And, as I was suggesting before, some people lose sight of their knowledge base; it is as if they have forgotten that they were taught lots of important things for a reason – and that reason was not to pass an essay, it was to be an effective social worker trying to make a positive difference to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our communities. So, that’s it in a nutshell: Stay focused![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Dr Neil Thompson has endless nuggets of widsom but encouraging social workers to stay focused is by far our favourite. Studying towards a qualification or working in social work can be a tough journey, but by not losing focus, you can find your way to incredibly worthwhile and rewarding work. If you’re interested in learning more from Neil, then make sure to check out One Stop Social Membership where Members get 10% off his books, as well as a whole range of other benefits![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_btn title=”Learn About One Stop Social Membership” color=”warning” align=”center” link=”|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Why Children Should Learn Languages

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Bonjour, guten tag, hola and ciao. Today we’re taking things internationally and looking at the benefits of being able to speak multiple languages, and more specifically, the impact the learning process has on children. We’re shouting from the rooftops that we should be getting our children to be bilingual or multi-lingual. Why, I hear you ask? Well, beyond being able to sound clever and cool in a foreign tongue (which, let’s face it, is reason enough), we should all encourage our children to learn languages because it’s been proven to help the cognitive development from an early age. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The UK is infamous for not being great with foreign languages. We all know the stereotypical Brit on holiday who refuses to try to speak the native language and instead just speaks English loudly and with wild hand gestures. Not the ideal image for the UK. However, with the rising popularity of apps like Duolingo that claim to make learning languages simple and fun, we’re noticing less of a reluctance across the country. We’re all starting to realise that languages aren’t as difficult as they seem, which is extending to the next generation. Parents who have had this realisation later in life, are promoting a bilingual childhood for their own offspring, to encourage opportunities and skills that they missed out on. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Getting children to learn another language from a young age has been proven to make them faster problem solvers, and have more experience at thinking critically; as well as being more likely to be creative. Thanks to the cognitive help from studying languages, bilingual people can also enjoy a longer life without Alzheimer’s and have a better memory; so an argument can be made for instilling these benefits early on. Why not be less likely to forget things from age 4 or 5 rather than starting to improve your memory at 34 or 45? [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Beyond the cognitive benefits that learning a second (or third or fourth) language can offer, there are also numerous obvious cultural and career advantages too. If children learn languages with more ease and strength at a young age, they are then more likely to develop fluency in their second language. Having this string to  their bow means that they’ll be more inclined to travel as they grow up, because they’ll be able to get around comfortably due to their language skills. Children are also taught to be more aware of other nations and cultures which leads to a more respectful manner of interacting. An additional language also helps get your foot in the door at modern and prestigious companies because it shows adaptability to a potential employer. You open up foreign markets and can negotiate with international clients. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]So let’s tally this up, getting a child to learn languages at young age will not only help their brain development and creativity, but will make them empathetic people and also lead them to be more cultured, not to mention stand them in better stead for succeeding in their chosen profession. On top of all this, languages are fun and will help them engage with international people, which improves socialisation skills and usually implies a higher acceptance within society. It’s clear to see why we’re starting to complain that it’s not mandatory for a child to learn a modern language until secondary school in the UK. If there are all these magnificent side-effects, then why are we not embracing languages more? [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]This may seem like a long winded way of just saying languages are good, but there’s more to this than just a drive for more Brits knowing how to say hello when on holiday. If we challenge our children and push them to know more than our generation, then they will rise to the occasion. If we give them a potential new passion in school, they will thrive. If we teach our children’s brains how to adapt to different scenarios and languages early on, they will be better people and do better as a collective. We have the chance to give every child more tools with which to conquer the world, no matter their background. Your cognitive skills benefit in the same way whether you come from a two-parent household, a traumatic past or any other vulnerable situation – so maybe languages might be a new way to level the playing field and make sure we give every child their best shot. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Social Workers in Schools

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]School. Seven (ish) hours we’re all trapped and forced to learn in the opinion of some. For others, school is a haven of knowledge, opportunity and most of all, safety. Not every child has the idyllic childhood from novels or films that we all hope to give our loved ones, and for those who do have more complicated upbringings, school can be a form of escape. In order to help those children, it’s important to recognise the role that social workers in schools have.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A school social worker has many different responsibilities, which are set out by the specific school or district, but a large part of any job for social workers in schools will be to assess the students. Social work training can help them identify any substance abuse, the physical and/or emotional functioning of the children and issues with peers that could be interfering with the well-being of a child; among other issues.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Students don’t just fit into one standard mould. They are not all alike with similar backgrounds, values, upbringings and home-lives. Those in the social work sector understand this. For example, “as a group, children in care do not perform as well in their education as their peers”, which means there is the risk that those who have a non-conventional family life are not getting their best chance at school, under the current system. This doesn’t just apply to children in care, as children from abusive households often do badly at school; and teenagers with divorced parents may find it difficult to concentrate in school. So, having a social worker present in the school environment allows for an extra set of eyes for children who may not be thriving due to their personal circumstances.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In an age of youth mental health issues taking over too many headlines, it’s easy to feel like we’re not doing enough to help our children and teens; so perhaps re-evaluating the structures in place to support school-age children is the way forward. School social workers have never really been a commonplace occurrence, but maybe considering the increasing pressures on children and young people in the modern era, they should be. Teachers are educators and so to add on the additional tasks of being aware and assessing the physical, emotional and psychological health of students as well as providing child protection services, is unrealistic. There is only so much one person can do in a 24-hour day, and so making social workers in schools a more regular situation could a mechanism that supports both the children, but also the current staff who are trying to safeguard their students. Bringing social workers into schools allows for a collaborative process when trying to improve the lives of students, which could yield better results.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Social workers are there to support individuals and their families who are going through difficult times and make sure that any and all vulnerable people, both children and adults, are safeguarded from harm. If that is at its core what the social worker role is, then surely placing children’s social workers in a setting where they can monitor and assess students is a good idea? Is it the right move to make every school in the UK require a social worker? There are endless if’s, maybe’s and how about’s when it comes to protecting children; but it seems a logical next step to utilise the skills a children’s social worker has in a place where a child is away from a difficult, unhealthy or even potentially traumatic situation at home. Social workers in schools can safeguard vulnerable children and ensure that they have as normal a school experience, and overall childhood as possible.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Progress to Excellence: Nursing and Midwifery Opportunities

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”Alternative route into nursing and midwifery careers”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]MORE doors to challenging and rewarding careers in healthcare are being opened with the expansion of a fast-track route for adults into further education.

The newly-launched Access to Higher Education (HE) Nursing and Midwifery course by Progress to Excellence Ltd offers an alternative route to training for those aged 19-plus who want a career in these particular fields but didn’t have the right qualifications to access the courses at university.

The course adds to the Progress to Excellence Ltd growing portfolio of qualifications in health and social care.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Damian Burdin, Chief Executive at Progress to Excellence Ltd, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer a selection of Access to HE qualifications which give individuals the opportunity to follow their dreams of training to become the likes of a nurse or midwife, FE teacher or health service manager.

“Just because someone didn’t get the exam grades at school that they needed to go to university doesn’t mean they can’t get there.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Damian also pointed out that, importantly, the Access to HE Diploma had been highlighted by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the UK’s quality body for higher education, as a means of promoting social mobility.

He said: “This qualification has been proven to provide a route for adults from disadvantaged backgrounds into higher education as well as becoming a pathway to enhance UK productivity by helping prepare people for employment when they graduate. This has been especially so in sectors with skills shortages.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Access to HE courses also remove another common obstacle facing many students – that of costs – as they are funded via an Adult Learner Loan which is wiped off if the student progresses on to, and achieves, their qualification at university. Household income isn’t taken into account when applying for an Adult Learner Loan, there’s no credit check and no upper age limit.

Last year, 24,895 students with an Access to HE Diploma started a degree or other higher education programme in England and Wales – up from 24,180 the previous year.

QAA statistics show that 87 per cent of students with an Access to HE Diploma were aged 21 or over, compared with 34 per cent of students with other qualifications.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Damian added: “The Access to HE courses all require a high level of commitment from students as the course is designed to bridge the gap and get them ready for university. “However a big advantage of these courses is their delivery model as they are all delivered online, meaning studies can be completed at times to suit every individual and to fit in with work and family life.”

Progress to Excellence Ltd is offering the following Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma courses:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Access to HE – Health and Social Care

Entry requirements to study are a GCSE 4/D or above in English and maths.

This route is ideal if looking to gain a job in roles such as community worker, further education teacher, health promotion specialist, health service manager or as an adult nurse.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Access to HE – Nursing and Midwifery

Entry requirements to study are five GCSEs including GCSE Science, English and Maths at grade C (4) or above.

This route is suitable for those looking to move into a midwife or nursing role.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

A Guide to Starting University (From Someone Who’s Finished)

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Starting university can be a daunting prospect. Living independently without mum and dad, building new friendships, remembering to eat and sleep, it’s a total mine field. With more and more young people reporting mental health issues like anxiety or depression, it’s clear students don’t always adapt to starting university in the right way. So, here’s a short guide to help you kick start the beginning of the rest of your life. (With a couple of gritty truths chucked in for good measure.)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Living away from mum and dad.

This is never going to be easy. It may feel like a 24 hour party and you’re completely invincible, but many people will feel some sort of home sickness. Hell, I still felt it during my third year. Home sickness will affect everyone slightly differently. Some people lock themselves away for hours or days at a time. Some people become depressed, paranoid or irritable. Some people just cry at a moment’s notice. However it may affect you, it’s perfectly okay to ask for help. I honestly cannot emphasise this enough. University is about being out of your comfort zone, and it’s pretty much the same for everyone. Maybe pack a few small tokens from home to keep you feeling connected to your mum and dad or have weekly skype sessions with your family so that you can see the dog. It’s okay to miss home and it’s okay to do something about it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Making friends.

Remember, university is a shared experience. No one really knows what they’re doing, but everything will go much smoother if you have friends on your side. Try not to make sure you’re not accidentally alienating people early on (no-one actually likes the ‘phantom flatmate’ who never leaves their room).  Give them a chance to get to know you before any judgements are made. Especially in halls. You have to live with them for at least a year, so you’re going to see a lot of them. Including in embarrassing or compromising situations. But then again, they might find you like that too. Either way, it’s easier if you get along with the people you have to interact with on a daily basis.

It might be worth organising a form of meet and greet to get to know your flat mates in the first few weeks of term, after the rush of Freshers Week. Here are some suggestions from someone who’s survived all the awkward “Hi, my name is…” before:

  • House meetings
  • Group cooking
  • Host a Party
  • House night on the town
  • Movie night/Game night

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Course mates.

These will be some of the most useful people to know on campus. Especially on courses with small numbers of students. These will be the people you spend most of your time on campus with. Whether you’re in a lecture or seminar, in the library, or having a pint at the students union, they’ll be at the centre of your university life. You will also find at some point on your course you will have to participate in a group project, which, let’s be honest, no one wants to do, but will be much more bearable if you’re friendly with the people you’re with. Don’t be the pretentious one who thinks they know more than every other student, but also don’t rebel against engaging with your course. You’re all there because you like the same subjects, so it’s a level playing field.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Societies and sports teams.

Honestly, join one. Something that will get you out of the house and socialise. Whether you’re a chess champion or a rugby protégé (or both, we’re not judging), your university has something for everyone. It will give you new skills and friendships that will last you a life time. You may even end up in competition with other universities, giving you the chance to travel and experience even more. Take the leap of faith out of your comfort zone and you’ll thank me for it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Nights out.

You’re independent now, so no one can make decisions for you. You want to go drinking? Fine. Want to do it on a Tuesday, even though you know you should probably go to that 9am lecture on Wednesday? By all means. But know your limits. Forget everything you knew about drinking before you started, because university is a different ball game. The game has changed. And everyone has a different set of rules. So find yours. It may take a few weeks into term, but you will quickly learn what you can and can’t drink, how much you can tolerate, and how much it will affect your behaviour. Another beautiful fact to remember? You don’t actually have to drink if you don’t want to. Starting university can make you feel like you have to be just like everyone else, but I’m here to tell you, you don’t. Be fun on a night out and that’s all your friends are fussed about.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]And finally, actual work.

Whilst university is a truly amazing experience, you do actually have to do some work. This may take the form of essays, research, practical classes in labs etc. Take it seriously but enjoy your down time.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Essentially, university is about learning, experiencing new things and finding yourself. And the start of it can be a scary time. But that is totally normal, and you are not different, weird or doing uni wrong if you get nervous, homesick or sad. The most important thing is to find a healthy balance between work and play. Apart from that, we’re all just making it up as we go![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By Fraser Wilson, Salford University Graduate. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Progress to Excellence: End-Point Assessment

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”Prepare to Achieve guides employers through End-Point Assessment”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]EMPLOYERS are being offered a route through the maze of End-Point Assessment (EPA) as the new world of apprenticeship standards begins to make its mark on the health and social care sector.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Rather than being “signed off” at the end of their apprenticeship training by their training provider, apprentices who are studying the new apprenticeship standards in health and social care now have a new, final stage to their apprenticeship.

This stage is designed to ensure that the apprentice has gained the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) required of the apprenticeship. The assessment is done by an approved End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) which will work with the training provider, apprentice and employer during this stage of the journey.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Guiding employers through the EPA process, Sandra Evans (pictured), Chief Executive of Prepare to Achieve Ltd, said: “Employers have had a lot to take in over the past year or so with all the changes to the sector. After many years of working under the old apprenticeship frameworks, understandably there’s a lot of confusion not only for employers but also for the apprentices themselves.

“In a nutshell, the EPA process is there to validate that the apprentice has the skills, knowledge and behaviours of the apprenticeship. It basically adds an extra quality stamp to their training.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3249″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Prepare to Achieve, whose headquarters are in Birkenhead, delivers nationally and is the only End-Point Assessment organisation to specialise in the health and social care sector.

Sandra continued: “It means our EPA service is specifically tailored to the needs of care employers rather than making them simply adapt to the EPA process which may not suit the sector.

“For example, some EPAOs require 90 days’ notice of assessment dates. Prepare to Achieve does not do this as we recognises the impracticality of operating this way due to the many uncertain working patterns within the care sector.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Nor does Prepare to Achieve charge any registration fees. There’s just one fee at the point of Gateway, the period when, after discussion with their apprentice and training provider, the employer “signs off” the apprentice as ready for EPA.

Sandra explained: “Our approach to fees is the same as our delivery approach – transparent and fuss-free. We want to build lasting relationships with our employers and so make it clear to them about the whole process, how it works and what the costs are. There are no hidden extras like some other EPAOs.”

The new apprenticeship reforms are having a big effect on employers but EPA is a system that, Sandra believes, accurately assesses a learner’s capabilities and readiness for a particular workplace role in the health and social care sector.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]For learners, the EPA process is an opportunity for them to really demonstrate competence within the sector, ultimately placing them in a stronger position for career progression.

The EPA assessment method, she said, is a motivational way of testing learners’ abilities, encouraging them to work hard to achieve a pass, merit or distinction.

She added: “At the heart of our business is our commitment to learners, employers, providers and the apprenticeships sector in general. Within the health and social care sector, quality of service is key so we always engage with employers in a timely, open, friendly and supportive manner, totally committed to the value that good quality apprenticeships can add to society.

“We believe that when standards are high, everyone benefits.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]For more information about End-Point Assessment and Prepare to Achieve’s comprehensive range of resources on EPA, including mock assessment tools to help employers and apprentices understand the new system, please contact Prepare to Achieve on 0151-662 0139 or email[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Student Social Worker Guides, Resources & Recommended Books

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]So, September is just around the corner and for many it will mean the start of your social work career/placement.  

To help all student social workers and ASYE’s, we have put together this page which has a list of our most viewed and downloaded resources and student practitioner support guides. We have also put together a selection of recommended books.

It is free to download and is an excellent ‘starter pack’ for any Student Social Worker. Our advice is to download and save (or print) and keep an individual pack that you can keep adding to. We will continue to add to the list, so make sure you’ve signed up to our E-Bulletin.

We wish you all the best of luck in your studies and social work career! [/vc_column_text][vc_cta h2=”Social Work Guides” txt_align=”center”]

How to make the most of your Student Social Work Placement

Student Placement Top Tips: How to treat your Student Professional

Student Social Work: What makes a good observation?

How to Evidence PCF | Positive Social Work: The Essential Toolkit for NQSWs

Critical Reflection Writing

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Ecomap Template | How to do an ecomap

Genogram Template | How to do a genogram

What’s Your Learning Style?

Social Work: Theories to Inform & Intervene & Models of Assessment

Reflective Log Template | Student Social Workers

Professional Capabilities Framework Evidence Sheet | Student Social Workers

Professional Capabilities Framework Evidence Sheet: End of Second Placement

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Share A New Model for Social Work

The Social Work Portfolio: A Students Guide To Evidencing Your Practice

Evidencing CPD: A Guide to Building your Social Work Portfolio

Report Writing

Practising Critical Reflection: A Resource Handbook

An Introduction To Social Work Practice

Writing Analytical Assessments in Social Work

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