Day 3 and 4: Seedlings!

Over the Easter Holidays, I began preparing for the Seedlings group which involved gathering various resources for the arts and crafts activities, creating resources for some of the games, meeting with Kate to discuss possible children that may like to attend and planning the schedule. Kate and I ran the Seedlings programme for the SAFE Charity over the 17th and 18th of March which is a nice fun way to give support to children who have had some type of abuse in their lives by having a 2-day club which involves fun games and arts and crafts while also getting the children to talk about feelings and emotions and giving them a safe place.

DAY 1:

Around 6 children were expected but only 3 girls turned up. This is usually because these families have very hectic schedules with a lot going on so cannot always commit to things so we were not concerned by only have 3 children on the course. The were all very similar in personality; shy, quiet and very polite so they group had a very good atmosphere once they all started to warm up to each other. The first day consisted of mostly that just getting them to get to know each other a bit more feel more relaxed by just playing with the dollhouse, having an easter egg hunt and playing other games. After lunch, Kate began discussing feelings more and more with them and you could see they were starting to feel more comfortable around us. We have various emojis of different emotions for them to discuss and got them to draw on an outline of a body where they feel certain emotions and what are the bad and good feelings. These kind of exercises were still fun and playful so that the kids were enjoying themselves but also gave them an opportunity to open up a bit more. It was nice to witness the change in these 3 girls from being very shy and reserved to being playful and relaxed. By the end of the first day, 2 of the girls wanted to discuss something personally with Kate. This just showed to me how beneficial this programmes actually is. Although on the outside it may just look like a holiday club for kids, the tools the the charity and Kate uses allows the children to feel safe and comfortable enough to talk about their worries and feelings which is a big part of what SAFE tries to do as a charity. This can be so important for some of these children as they often do not get that in their home life due to their personal situation.

DAY 2:

After such a lovely first day working with Kate on Seedlings with the 3 girls I was really excited to come back for the second day of the programme. Kate likes to do a feelings check-in at the beginning of every session to see how everyone is feeling. The first day they all picked feelings such as shy, nervous and anxious but on the second day they all picked feelings such as excited, happy and special. This made me feel happy and excited  as I could see how much they were enjoying being here and that they were really feeling safe and relaxed. They were definitely a lot more open the second day when discussing feelings they sometimes would share their own personal stories which none felt comfortable to do yesterday. The 3 girls were definitely getting closer from this; I could see them sharing, working together and looking out for each other which was really nice to see. This programme gave me an opportunity to see what it is like observing children’s behaviour and the many things you can learn from it. The last task Kate got to do with them was to make a support tree. This was just a little arts and crafts activity of making a tree from a drawing of your hand and putting leaves on the end of the fingers of people they can talk to for support to make sure they leave the day knowing who they can talk to. They are also given the Childline number to write on their tree and the emergency 999 number and explained when they should use them. When the parents came to collect their kids you could see how happy it made them that they knew their children had support and that their child knew that too. Overall, the whole experience was a massive eye opener to me about how many children actually go through this sort of thing and how easy sometimes it can be to help just by creating a safe space for them where they feel comfortable to talk. This has really made me think twice about not wanting to work with little children as I have learned that there are so many tools to help support children that need to be shared.

HOURS COMPLETED: 9

TOTAL HOURS: 15

Day 2: Meeting with a Family @ the SAFE Charity

On the 12th March, myself along with Kate, who I have been working closely with at the charity organising the Seedlings programme, arranged a meeting with one of her family cases she oversees at the charity. They had been working with Kate and receiving support from this charity since last October when the abuser in this particular situation had been removed. Kate wanted to introduce me to this family as she was really interested in me possibly carrying on any extra support the family might needs as they come to the end of their time with the charity. This would involve me just having check-in’s with the mother whenever she needed either via text/e-mails or just meeting up for a chat over a coffee. Kate also asked me if I would like to go and visit the children in their schools for check-ins which I am really excited about as I wanted to gain more experience with working with children in a school setting. These check-in’s are a tool the charity uses to make sure the family knows they still have support from them even when the have finished all of the various programmes and course the charity has to offer. The main focus of the charity is to make sure the family feels safe and supported and they know who they can talk to if they need to. The family came into the SAFE charities main office where they also have various counselling and meeting rooms. We met in the children’s counselling room so the children had lots of toys to play with while they were there. The purpose of this meeting was to allow me to get to know the family a bit before I potentially take over their case from Kate. Kate is one of the main children’s team practitioners at the charity and has a very heavy case load so she is excited for me to be able to continue any extra support for families that have been working with her for a while now. I am really excited about this opportunity as I think it will give me greater confidence in my communication and listening skills and feel like it is a great opportunity to see what it is like to actually be a practitioner at this charity.

 

Later in the week, Sasha, the volunteers organiser at the SAFE charity gave me a call and asked if I would like to come in on the 29th March for a meeting with her and Emma, a counsellor at the charity, to discuss possibly working as a young persons counsellor with the charity. I am so excited to go to this meeting and discuss what the have in mind as this is an area that I have always wanted to consider career-wise. This would give me the opportunity to work and gain knowledge about working with  slightly older children/adolescents which is what I was really hoping for from this placement.

HOURS COMPLETED: 2

TOTAL HOURS: 6

First Day

On Monday 1st April, I properly started my placement. It began with a meeting with Kate, an events co-ordinator at the SAFE charity in Exeter. After discussing with her last week when I secured my placement about a possible programme I could help her run, we met up to discuss how we were going to run this programme called ‘Seedlings’ over the Easter Break. This is a new programme that has been set up by the SAFE to replace some older and outdated programmes. This meant Kate and I got to sit down and brain storm possible ideas and activities we could incorporate. ‘Seedlings’ is going to be a 2-day programme for children of all ages (which was previously separate groups for separate ages but due to lack of funding and a smaller participation list the groups are being put together) who have had experience of abuse within the family. SAFE only deals with families after the ‘abuser’ has been removed from this situation and focuses primarily on prevention and safeguarding of the parent and the child/children. Each volunteer/employee at SAFE has a client list with at least 10 families they monitor while also providing different programmes such as one-on-one counselling with the parent and the child, group counselling as part of their DART programme and group programmes for both parents and children. The programme me and Kate are running is intended to get children from similar backgrounds to come together for 2 days of fun and relaxation with the key focus being making it feel like a ‘safe space’ while also encouraging the children to talk about feelings and emotions more and try to guide them with a better understanding of these feeling and emotions. I am really excited to run this programme as I think it is a very beneficial way to help children discuss how they are feeling while also giving these children a fun day out which a lot of them need after the ordeals they have been through. I am expecting some hard hitting topics to arise, but I am prepared and just excited to help these children in anyway I can. Throughout the morning me and Kate outlined a basic schedule of the different activities we would do with the children over the two days, using resources from previous programmes while also thinking of our own ideas. An idea I came up with that I think we will incorporate into the day was ‘Draw the Feelings’. In my first year of University at the University of Roehampton I completed ‘An introduction to counselling’ module where we actually got to practice and participate in group counselling. One of the sessions, involved us colouring in a cut-out silhouette of a human body and colouring it in with different colours depending on where we feel these emotions. What I liked most about the task was that the our mentor allowed us to pick our own colours for each emotion, giving the drawing a more personal representation of the persons feelings. Kate told me about a similar task they had down before with chalk on the walls and and getting children to draw what happy looks like, what sad looks like e.t.c but Kate agreed that it would be interesting to see the children’s own personal representations of feelings and where they feel emotion. Other tasks we have included in our schedule is ‘Hunt the Feelings’ which is like a treasure hunt but for different emotions, and we thought we could put an Easter Egg Hunt spin on it as it will be the Easter Holidays and make it a bit more exciting for the children. We also make sure we make a lot of different things so they have keepsakes to take home with them to remember the day such as slime, a glitter jar, a goody bag and a little seedling they can plant themselves. A lot of the DIY tasks are in place to make sensory toys which can be used a stress relievers when at home. As well as planning this programme that will run for 8 hours over the 17th and 18th of April, I got to have discussions with other members of the team about potential families that are coming to the end of the DART programme or a counselling programme that may just need a weekly check-in for emotional support. There are 2 potential families I might be able to work with which I am really excited about as it means I will get to work with children of all different ages and the parents. SAFE works hard as charity to work with the whole family and their relationship and communication after the abuser has been removed. So far I have completed 2 hours of work with the charity and and 1 hour of private learning and reading in order to prepare for the programme I am going to be running with Kate. I will also have completed another hour of independent learning this week as I will be collecting all the equipment I will need to run this programme such as instructions and equipment for the DIY tasks, laminating and printing out emoji cards, creating goody bags for the children and recruiting and creating a contact list of children who may be available to participate in the programmes from the database called Oasis where all the children and parents receiving help from the charity are stored.

HOURS COMPLETED: 3

TOTAL HOURS: 4

Important Paperwork

Due to my late start of this Placement, I am unable to upload the fully completed checklist just yet as it needs to be signed off by my Placement Supervisor but it will be uploaded by the end of the week.(UPDATE: one signature received from Placement Supervisor on Checklist A). I will upload Checklist A, however, i have highlighted areas that still need to be signed off and I will update this post as and when the form is fully completed. I also cannot upload the Formative and Summative Reviews as I have not completed enough hours to fill these in yet with my placement provider but they will be uploaded as I properly get started on this placement. I will also upload Checklist B with this paperwork. The reason why I am late at starting this placement is discussed in my first post on this blog ‘Searching for a Placement’. For now, I will upload the Placement Learning Agreement 2018/19 and Checklist A (incomplete) which is signed by my placement provider.

Securing a Placement

So today was a very exciting day as I had a meeting with a lady called Sasha from the charity ‘Stop Abuse for Everyone’ (SAFE). After not getting a response from Action for Children in Exeter I began sending out more e-mails to other local charities as I really wanted to acquire a placement that really interests me. Just looking at the SAFE website I knew they dealt with subjects such as prevention and safeguarding of trauma and abuse victims in adults and children which I would love to gain work experience in. The meeting went very successfully and I secured a work placement with them (which I have submitted to InPlace) and got to meet a lot of the Exeter team and discuss their different job roles. I got to speak to an on-call counsellor, a lady that runs and organises events for children after trauma and a woman that takes in all the referrals and cases and assesses them. They have various different programmes set up and funded by the government or other liscensed charities such as the NSPCC e.g D.A.R.T (domestic abuse recovery together). They offer a ‘whole family’ approach meaning they adopt a holisitc approach when working with families that have dealt with abuse or trauma.  During the meeting with Sasha, I completed the Placement Checklist and got her to sign the learning agreement. I will upload a copy of all paperwork onto Edublogs, however, there are a few forms I am just waiting to be signed off by my Placement Supervisor (Forms will be uploaded before beginning my hours on the 01/04/19). I found the whole meeting very intriguing and I can’t wait to fully start my placement hours on the 1st April. I will be meeting with a lady called Kate next week and I will be helping her plan and set up her children’s sessions called ‘Seedlings’. These are playgroups designed to help children communicate their feelings and emotions. I am really excited to get involved with this and this charity as a whole as I feel like they cover a lot of different areas and I can gain a lot of knowledge and experience from working with them and I can’t wait to start my placement with them.

HOURS COMPLETED: 1

Searching for a Placement

Unfortunately, my first blog post doesn’t involve a secure placement provider, however, I wanted to give an update on how the whole process is going. I first began researching possible contacts for my placement in January 2019 and while doing so I wanted to take into consideration all my previous work experience and try something different. While doing my GCSE’s I had the opportunity to work at Landscore Primary School, Crediton which was a great experience, however, it made me realise I was more interested in working with adolescents and young adults. I also had to complete a work placement in sixth form while doing my A-Levels where I got to volunteer for a week at the Crediton Children’s Centre which is organised by the Action for Children Charity. This really changed my opinion with working with young children as I really enjoyed this experience. The charity focuses on children under 2 years old and monitors certain children’s development in the community if they have experienced events such as trauma or bereavement or have a medical condition. It opened my eyes to the many different opportunities and job roles there are in helping children. This made me re-think my decision about not wanting to work with young children for this work placement. It has also proven very difficult to acquire a work placement in any of the secondary schools in my local area. I e-mailed schools in the Okehampton area, the Exeter area and even my own old school and sixth form and unfortunately none of them had either the time or resources to take me on. After 2 months of unsuccessful e-mails and letters, I finally have a promising response from Action for Children in Exeter. This would be a great opportunity to see what the charity does within a larger community and gain more experience with working with children. I hope to hear back from them soon, however, the deadline for this assignment is coming up fast so I have had to look at other options. Another person on the course has mentioned to me about a peer support group being organised within the Psychology Department at Marjon. This would entail training about peer support, independent learning about peer support and peer support sessions for myself with a 3rd year while attending sessions to help a 1st year. This experiences sounds very interesting to me as it would give me an opportunity to work with young adults rather than children which I would like to gain more experience with and also build up my communication skills and social skills with other people studying Psychology. I have obtained a DBS check and certificate through the university so I am ready to go as soon as I get a response. Also, I have filled out the paperwork for this placement as much as I can but until I have a confirmed placement provider I cannot upload them onto Edublogs. I hope to have something secured soon as I am really excited to get started.