Published on 12 June 2020
A student social worker from the University of Sunderland has shared her experience of training with a local authority during the coronavirus outbreak.
Hayley Pound, 37, was part way through her Durham County Council placement when UK coronavirus restrictions came into place.
With support from the council and the University, Hayley, along with fellow placement worker 26-year-old Sally Elders, was able to continue her placement, during a time of great change and demand for the social care industry.
Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, Hayley and her fellow students’ education has not been impacted.
Sally, from Newcastle, said: “As a trainee social worker progressing towards qualification, my experience on placement and my day to day practice has changed dramatically in a short period of time.
"Despite uncertainty, for both practitioners and service users, the support available has resulted in a fantastic sense of community within teams and pride in the profession.
“The opportunities that myself and my fellow students have been offered has enabled us to remain on placement, as valued members of the team, meeting the capabilities required for qualification.
“Central to this has been the support we received from Durham County Council in flexible working arrangements and in equipment to use whilst working from home, with regular communication offering us reassurance that students are an important resource to the local authority.
“My recent experiences have reinforced my passion for social work and the integral role the profession plays in crisis management, response and recovery. The skills, knowledge and expertise I have had the opportunity to develop and observe during this time make me feel more ready than ever to qualify and begin my career as a social worker.”
University social work student, Hayley Pound, was supported to successfully complete her placement with the council’s East Locality Learning Disabilities Team, during the pandemic.
Hayley, who is originally from Darlington but now lives in Stanley, is due to qualify as a social worker later this month.
She explained how the team continued to prepare her for practice, offering support and reassurance throughout the challenges of the period: “Pausing my placement was something I did not want to do and despite initial worries, due to the support offered by the team, I felt confident in working from home.
“I feel from the support and opportunities I have been given I have been able to continue placement and contribute to the team.
“I feel lucky that I have been able to continue placement knowing so many on my course have had to pause placement, to begin with this caused a lot of stress and anxiety but talking to my supervisors and course leaders has made it easier."