“I’m not sure if I would have ended up doing social work if it wasn’t for Think Ahead” – participants speak to Community Care
Think Ahead participants Sonya and Alex, and our Co-Chief Executive Natalie, have spoken to Community Care, a leading social work news website, about the Think Ahead programme.
Community Care carried out the interviews to mark our first cohort completing the two-year programme.
Sonya Chee (pictured above), who works in an Early Intervention in Psychosis team in East London, talked about what had attracted her to the programme in the first place. She said a friend has suggested mental health social work to her, and she’d come across Think Ahead when doing some research. She said: “I’m not sure if I would have ended up doing social work if it wasn’t for Think Ahead. The mental health aspect was massive for me.”
She explained why doing a fast-track graduate programme felt like the right decision for her: “One of the things that frustrated me about university was that I spent a lot of time not being that productive, learning something and then doing an exam on it six months later and forgetting everything – that’s just not the way I function.”
Alex Botham, a participant who works in an older adults team in Brighton, was also attracted to the programme because it allowed him to start having an impact quickly. He explained: “One of the real draws of Think Ahead for a lot of people is how quickly you are on placement and spending time directly with people. You’re learning through practice and reflection very early on in the course.”
Natalie Acton, Think Ahead’s Co-Chief Executive, said she is delighted that the programme has attracted people who might not have considered mental health social work as a career: “Nearly 95% of our cohort have not applied to social work via any other route, so we really are capturing people who wouldn’t have thought of it otherwise.”
She also talked about one of the charity’s wider aims – which is to add to the evidence base in the sector. As part of this, a number of participants from the first cohort carried out original research in their second year of the programme. Natalie said: “One of the things that we set out to do was not only to recruit and retain fantastic people into the social care profession, but also add to the evidence base for mental health social work, and we were just so gratified to see this fantastic range of incredibly high-quality academic theses on mental health social work.”