March 21, 2023, by Rebekah

My Placement with Nottingham Mencap

by Sophia Thomson, final year Law student.

My name is Sophia Thomson and I am a final year Law Student. I have recently undertaken a ten week placement with Nottingham Mencap as an Activities Assistant. This has been an invaluable experience, not only due to the skills that I have been able to develop in the application and interview process, but also due to the remarkable people that I was able to meet. I am very excited to say that I have returned to Mencap this term in a volunteer capacity.

The application and interview process were inevitably nerve-wracking. However, the resources provided by the University, including the amazing pre-placement workshop that was put on by the placement team, were extremely helpful in negating some of these feelings. The application followed a common format, as did the interview. My main tip would be to be authentic when talking about your reasons for choosing to do a placement and for choosing that specific organisation.

The part of the placement that I loved the most would have to be seeing how service users progressed. There was a range of artwork, poetry, sculpting, baking, singing, and dancing that would take place each week. Alongside this creative work would be basic skills session taking place in another room. From the beginning of my placement to now, each person has developed and enhanced a number of skills that they can now use in their everyday life. This epitomises the goal of Nottingham Mencap as an organisation; it has been extremely rewarding to see it materialise in the knowledge that I played a role, however small.

One of the biggest challenges was ensuring a constant line of communication with other staff members to ensure service users were safe at all times. It can sometimes be difficult to do so when working with a large group where each person has tailored individual needs. I was asked on two occasions to join the group who attend the leisure centre each Wednesday. The other staff members and I would discuss which of the adults required additional support and run through the activities we would be undertaking. We would have to be very aware of our surroundings whilst travelling through Nottingham City Centre, communicating to ensure everyone was accounted for. Each trip was incredibly successful, with all members showing significant progress towards their goals.

If you are considering a similar placement, I would suggest that you go into it open-minded. From week to week, my roles and responsibilities changed and it can be unpredictable at times. But, if you are really passionate about the organisation, you will just be happy to be there!

If you are interested learning more about Nottingham Mencap and the work that they do please click here or take a look at their Instagram page to see some of the amazing work they do [@nottsmencap].

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