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Seonaid’s virtual placement experience

We have enjoyed having Community Education student, Seonaid, on placement with us since the start of the year. Before she finished up we asked her to share her experience of the placement with us. We are delighted she found the virtual placement experience so enjoyable!

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I am Seonaid Durston and I have been on placement with Carolina House Trust for the past 12 weeks as part of my 3rd year studying Community Education at Dundee University.

When I first started back in January, I completed a two-week induction which was vital for the placement. During this time, I got to meet every member of Head Office staff and shadow a range of sessions with young people and carers as well as sitting in on a lot of meetings too! It was definitely a bit daunting going into this placement when working online, however, this period allowed me to integrate properly into the team and find out more about what CHT was all about. The induction period was really valuable to me and my learning.

There are so many things I enjoyed during my short time at CHT. Working with young people is something I have always loved doing. Getting to spend time with them and build up a relationship throughout sessions makes all youth work really fulfilling. I enjoyed getting to chat all things Minecraft and Pretty Little Liars with young people and they gave me so many laughs, especially on days that felt particularly tough.

As well as this, the team at CHT have made this placement so enjoyable. My constant emails with questions and asking to shadow may have been overwhelming for them but everyone took them in their stride. From the admin team and HR to the social workers and placement support team, their transparency and positive work ethic made me feel welcome within the CHT community.

I loved getting to learn so much when working with CHT. I didn’t have much knowledge of foster care or of the care system before starting back in January and I have really enjoyed learning so much about it and it highlighted the importance of the fantastic work fostering agencies like Carolina House Trust do.

As with everything, this placement didn’t come without its challenges. When starting uni in 2018, I never anticipated I would ever be completing a placement online. It felt weird meeting everyone, from staff to carers and young people from behind a computer screen. Although I can be quite an independent worker, I missed getting the opportunities to chat through things and bounce ideas off other people like we would in the office.

Also, as a typical ‘gen Z’, I had a fear of phone calls before starting at CHT! I wasn’t prepared for all of the constant phone calls and Teams meetings but I definitely faced – and overcame – that fear!

Reflecting on the past three months I’ve found it so difficult to think of just one moment that was my favourite. One highlight was putting together and delivering the Supporting LGBTQ+ Young People training session with Chelsea (a Social Work student also on placement with CHT). This is an area I am really passionate about and the engagement from carers and staff was amazing!  The feedback we got made it feel like our hard work together had really paid off. Another favourite moment was seeing all the staff releasing their inner thespian when taking part in the Social Committee’s Murder Mystery!

This placement has really opened my eyes to what foster care really is. It is completely different to how Tracey Beaker makes out, and I think a lot of naïve perceptions of foster care, including my own, have been shaped by books, TV shows and films. I have learned that there is so much more to foster care than ‘the dumping ground’ and ‘Elaine the Pain’. By having hands-on experience at CHT, I have learned so much about the care system and young people and adults who are care experienced. I have so much respect for all the staff at CHT and the carers who dedicate so much to this career, and the young people themselves, who have taught me so much over the past 3 months.

Seonaid at the Virtual After School Club with the Placement Support Worker team and young people.

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