September 7, 2023, by Rebekah

My Placement with Nottingham Mencap

My name is Elijah Pope, I am a second year Law LLB student, and in the previous spring term I undertook a placement with Nottingham Mencap as an Activities Assistant. As a basic summary of the role, this has required me to assist in the setting up and performing of activities for adults with various disabilities – such activities include a Creative Business class, accompanying service users to a local gym, and general support of service users each day. This role has allowed me to develop in ways I had not anticipated before applying, and directly leading from this I am now employed by Nottingham Mencap as a Support and Enablement Worker.

When I applied for placements through the Nottingham Advantage Award Moodle page, I was admittedly reluctant to push myself into external roles – I often struggle with the pressure of succeeding, and despite previous experience and knowledge of Mencap through my family, I worried that the application and interview process would be stressful and difficult. However, in truth the application process was intuitive and easy to navigate, and the interview with Mencap if anything was an informal chat relating to my interest in the role rather than a formal pressurized interview. I think going into the interview with this sort of mindset helped my interviewer to properly visualize how I would perform in this environment, and therefore helped me to secure the role.

The most enjoyable part of the placement was probably when most of the service users first come in in the morning. Everyone was so friendly, and provided you make a conscious effort to say hello with people and engage in conversation, it hardly feels like work at all, and you often get to learn new things about the world – I’ve never heard so much about Love Island and ghost rollercoasters before!

It could be hard at times, especially with some of the non-verbal service users when trying to work out what they needed from you. However, the staff around me had a huge amount of experience, and often they would be able to help me with anything I wasn’t sure about. These moments required me to try and listen and understand in ways I wouldn’t normally have to, but in doing so, it has allowed me to expand my communication skills dramatically.

I think when working with those with disabilities, there is an unconscious assumption that it might be a tough, emotionally draining role to undertake. My experience of my placement taught me quite the opposite. The service users are just like any other people with their own particular interests and needs – by keeping an open mind and trying to put yourself in situations where you might not initially feel comfortable, as a result you can develop more roundly as a person and as a professional through these alternate avenues.

To learn more about Nottingham Mencap and their work, I would suggest checking out their website ( and their regularly updated Facebook page ( for more details.


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