Guest blog by Isabell Munzing

Being a social work student at Home-Start Westminster

I completed my first social work placement with Home-Start Westminster. Although before starting my placement, I had wondered what it would be like working in the voluntary sector as a social work student, it had truly been a marvellous experience.

First of all I was amazed by the warm welcome that I had received when I first started. I was also amazed by the great atmosphere in the office created by the wonderful Home-Start staff members, who are not only incredibly nice and understanding but equally very helpful and supportive. From day one I knew that whenever I had questions or needed help or advice, all the Home-Start staff would always make time for me.

I was quickly matched with five families who all had very different needs and strengths and had also had various cultural backgrounds. As my families’ needs widely differed, my practice had also been very diverse. For example, I mostly offered emotional and practical support in my families’ homes however I also accompanied my families to appointments, helped them to apply for benefits, linked them to services, applied for grants for them and advocated on their behalf. I supported two of my families through their pregnancies and it was very powerful seeing the parents with their babies for the first time.

Apart from home visits, I went to many multi-agency meetings, different children centres, food banks, a parenting course, organised Team around the Family Meetings and additionally attended staff meetings and had weekly supervisions. I loved being able to create my own weekly schedule and as I really enjoy being busy, I fit in five home visits, many multi-agency meetings, supervisions, time to conduct research and work on my portfolio and reflection time every week.

Initially I was unsure how much I could really do for families in order to support them, due to my still fairly limited social work knowledge and experience. However I’m now completely amazed that my work had such a big impact on my families’ lives and that my support had really made a difference. My biggest achievements had been being able to help my families to buy a pushchair with a £300 grant, providing them with donated baby clothes and moses baskets, supporting them in applying for benefits, encouraged them to use other services and attend sessions at the children centre and enabling a mother to get a denture.

I loved working with a person-centred approach and it enabled me to understand the importance of always focusing on my client’s strengths. My manager Christa once told me that it is okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. I certainly did learn so much from this placement not only through working directly with families and other agencies but especially from the Home-Start staff.

Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity that enhanced my learning and leadership skills, helped me to attain more knowledge on human development, social work theories and methods, legislation and services available in Central London.  Last but not least this placement intensively boosted my confidence and has enabled me to speak up in larger groups.

I could not have wished for a better placement!

Isabell

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain”― Vivian Greene

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