Cardiff Metropolitan University Volunteering

By | 10th May 2017

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Cardiff Metropolitan University Volunteering

Cardiff Metropolitan University Volunteering

My Experience of Psychology Placements at Cardiff Met!

We have been offering volunteering opportunities within the BSc (Hons) Psychology programme for a number of years, and have rapidly expanded the number of organisations that we work with in the last four years. The placement opportunities offered in the second and third year provide students with work experience and helps them develop other practical skills that supplement and support the academic side of the programme.  Hannah Rowlands recently published a guest blog (http://studentblogs.cardiffmet.ac.uk/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-third-year-psychology-student/ ) about her routines at Cardiff Met, which made us think it would be interesting to ask if she would write something more specific for us.  Here is her blog about volunteering:

I chose to study psychology at Cardiff Met primarily because of it is applied nature. This course stood out to me as it allows its undergrads to develop a range of important employability skills. These skills are developed through the vast range of placement partners on offer!

Hence I chose to do the second year option Work, Volunteering and Placement module. Through this module I could apply for a range of placements Cardiff Met offers, such as placements in clinical settings to charity based community projects. There were so many to choose from and I was really unsure of which direction to head in but eventually I applied for Safer Wales Inclusive Service. This involved one-to-one and group sessions with a focus of encouraging positive lifestyle choices to the service users at risk of sexual exploitation. During the course of this placement I was given the opportunity to complete mentoring training. This consisted of a day’s workshop going thorough all aspects of mentoring, and afterwards we were expected to complete a booklet to evidence our understanding. These were then marked by our supervisors at Safer Wales and we were informed if we had passed the course. This helped me a lot on my placement when advising and mentoring the service users, and will aid me in the future on other projects.

wvap-blog

The placement supervision consisted of the placement provider completing an assessment grid evaluating my personal employability skills. Additionally, I had to complete a placement incident report. The focus of this was to evaluate my response to an incident of my choice that occurred during the course of my placement. I had to justify the reasons for my behaviour and what I would do differently in future to respond to a similar situation.

Due to the rewarding nature of this placement I also applied for extra volunteering at Whitchurch Hospital through a charity called Student Volunteering Cardiff. Throughout the volunteering I worked with adults who had an acquired brain injury. This was a really interesting experience as working in a clinical setting allowed me to see the difficulties the patient’s face when having mental health issues.

As you can imagine both of these volunteering programmes helped me to develop many key skills, like working in a confidential manner in professional settings, understanding appropriate ways to communicate with both professionals and service users and my confidence and ability to lead activities with service users. These skills will prove important in my later career in psychology. With this in mind I would definitely recommended anyone to get involved in the amazing number of placement partners Cardiff Met has to offer. Not only will it help you develop important skills and be great experience for your CV, but most importantly it is really rewarding and helps you see psychology applied in the real world!

We think it is great that Hannah recognises how she is developing and building skills. The Module Leader, Alison Walker, added this:

Community based placements offer students the opportunity to apply their learning in a range of contexts and gain valuable experience for their CV, whilst at the same time learning about the issues that impact on the local community. The model used by the department means that students are supported through the application process and are provided with 1:1 support for their individualised assessments.  It’s great to see how Hannah recognises how she has developed skills in professional contexts.

We have become increasingly aware that many of our students are involved in activities outside of the academic BSc Programme that are enhancing their skills, for example:

https://psychcardiffmet.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/an-african-summer-reflecting-on-a-volunteering-experience/

https://psychcardiffmet.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/newlink-wales-awarding-students/

 

We would like to be able to acknowledge students who are developing their practical capabilities and will be able to do this with the Psychological Literacy Award.  The award is separate to the academic qualification of the Psychology BSc (Hons) Programme, but will allow students to develop a range of transferrable skills and practical knowledge about psychology that will enhance their understanding of the discipline.

 

For some time now the changing nature of the graduate work market has meant that students are under increasing pressure to demonstrate employment skills and psychology students are very well placed to meet the demands of the workplace.  It has been acknowledged that “over the longer term, psychologically literate graduates will be able to demonstrate personal and social responsibility that will make them highly valued global citizens” (Mair, Taylor & Hulme, 2013, p. 15).  According to McGovern and colleagues (2010) psychological literacy includes: having a critical knowledge of psychology, acting ethically, communicating effectively, taking an amiable skeptic approach to problem solving and applying psychological principles to the broader community.  These are qualities and skills that psychology students have which will lead to successful careers.  We know that many students are volunteering, enhancing research skills and applying psychological knowledge outside of the confines of the academic degree and we want to document this psychologically literate way of engaging with the world through the Psychological Literacy Award.

 

PL Award Colour (2)

 

The main goal of the award is to recognise the practical and transferrable skills that psychology students apply to develop their professional and local communities.  In order to meet the criteria for the Psychological Literacy Award you will need to complete and evidence the following:

  • 24 credits from the Participant Panel to demonstrate an applied knowledge of psychological research methods and ethics
  • 30 hours of volunteering to facilitate the development of interpersonal and employability skills
  • Attendance at three relevant events (such as training courses or guest lectures) to develop discipline and professional
    knowledge
  • Attendance at the Department of Applied Psychology Careers Conference to increase employability awareness
  • Attendance at the Department of Applied Psychology Student Conference to enhance critical and creative thinking

All students currently enrolled on the Psychology BSc (Hons) Programme will be eligible to take part in the award and will receive a passport for evidencing their activities during induction activities.

 

Students completing the Psychological Literacy Award will also still be able to complete the Cardiff Met Award, as many of our psychology students have done in the past:

https://psychcardiffmet.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/psychology-and-the-cardiff-met-award-2015/

 

We have worked closely with the Students Union to ensure that the awards synchronise and students are able to use attendance at even
ts and volunteering hours for both awards (e.g. the 30 hours volunteering for the Psychological Literacy Award can contribute to the hours needed for the Cardiff Met Award).  More details about the Cardiff Met Award can be found here:

http://www.cardiffmetsu.co.uk/umax/employability/awards/

The Psychological Literacy Award will be officially launched on Thursday October the 15th by Professor Tony Chapman, President and Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff Metropolitan University.  More details of the launch event will be advertised closer to the time and tickets to the event can be collected from the Taught Programmes Office (D110).

If you would like to find out more about psychological literacy and the Psychological Literacy Award please follow us on Twitter: @PsychLiteracy

Students can also find out more about the Psychological Literacy Award via Moodle.

especially when I thought back to my childhood of climbing trees, riding my bike and going home to a nice warm bed with a full tummy with a family that cared for me.In Ghana, the poverty really hit me hard. I was so overwhelmed by it constantly, seeing malnourished children without clothes daily. Even more so, we were accustomed to have children in our class that were so ill (from malaria or whatever reason) that they even found it difficult to keep conscious during lessons. On Wednesdays in Ghana we’d all venture to different in-need tribes nearby and give them items such as water filters, soap, industrial sized bags of rice, biscuits and juice for the children, worming tablets and anything that we volunteers had brought over with us to give (such things as toys, clothes etc). Here we would get a clear insight to what everyday life was like for many. The tribes would welcomed us so warmly and offer so many things (such as whiskey shots!) that you would never imagine that they were so deprived. It shocked me how generous these people were when in reality they didn’t have enough things for themselves, let alone for strangers. One woman even offered us her home for the night so she could show me how she manages her crop!

 

What was your most memorable/ favourite moment?

My most memorable moment by far was meeting the group of children that I had bought health insurance for. While in Lisa Finlay school I got quite friendly with the headmaster, and he informed me that hardly any of the children had health insurance, and so when they get ill, they simply can’t afford to get it treated; this is how so many people die in Africa due to malaria.

Meeting them was an incredible experience as they were the most poor children of the school, but I couldn’t help notice how completely happy they were, which made me very emotional.

Rhian and her young charges 

What do you feel that you have taken away from this experience?

Apart from the obvious things like lovely photos and great stories to tell, I definitely feel like I’ve taken something from this experienced that has changed me. I feel so privileged these days, for things like a loving family and a comfy home. I feel incredibly privileged for all the experiences I’ve had so far in my life, where in Ghana, the people there are unlikely to even venture to the neighbouring town in their life time, let alone cross continents as I have. After this experience, I now realise how insignificant most of my previous daily problems were; things such as not being able to go out as I didn’t have enough money etc. I have my health, and that’s more than enough for me to be grateful for.

I also now have a very colourful CV! Working in Africa enriched me with many skills that the UK could not (for example in the UK I never would have found the strength to nurse an unconscious child with malaria in the middle of a classroom).

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