Hi Robyn. Tell us a bit about how you came to be studying social work.

I studied Law at Queen’s University Belfast, but was also working with elderly and disabled people living in the community, and found social care was a field that I enjoyed more. I had applied to study nursing and went through the interview process. However, as important as nursing is to society, social work seemed a more appropriate avenue for me to go down as it offers more opportunities in terms of areas to work in.

What did you know about us before you came on board?

I knew about Extern purely for its drug and alcohol services, as one of my university lecturers is involved with the organisation. But there’s so much more to it than that, such as the Syrian refugee team, for example.

What sort of work have you been doing with the Janus team?

I work with kids aged from 9 to 16. It involves finding a focused piece of work to be able to give them the tools to deal with their emotional trauma, or if they have issues with social skills or self-esteem. It’s about giving that young person the skills to be able to manage their everyday life.

What would be a typical day in your work?

You would look over your session notes from the previous day with the young person, speak with your supervisor, and debrief. Then, when the children get out of school, you can do an activity or piece of work they are interested in. It’s all about the young person, and being led by them.

What has your experience with Extern taught you?

When practicing, it will be important for me to build and maintain relationships with other professionals and service users. Other professionals are the experts in their field, and the service users are the experts on their own lives. Building relationships based on good communication, respect and honesty will allow me to work in a person-centred way.

What would you say to encourage other aspiring social workers about working with Extern?

Anybody that has this placement doesn’t realise how lucky they are to get it. The breadth of work that we are getting involved in is amazing, as we’ve covered so many areas.

For details on student placements with Extern contact our Practice Development Unit on, tel: +44 (0)28 9084 0555, or visit www.extern.org