24 March 2023

LSA welcomes Social Work Student on placement

My name is Lauren Christie, and I am a third year social work student currently on my first placement at Legal Services Agency! I study Social Work at Glasgow Caledonian University and will graduate in 2024.

The main reason I chose to study social work was to try to improve the lives of people within our society. Social workers listen to people’s needs – from young children, to those in conflict with the law and even those receiving community care – to help them make positive choices and improve their quality of life in whatever way they can.

However, what drew me to social work in particular was the desire to help, empower and support people to overcome challenges in their lives. I have always been a people person, and I wanted to have a career which would allow me to influence change through positive working relationships. I love meeting people from different backgrounds, and being able to connect with others from all walks of life is another major drive for my career.

I studied HNC Social Services Degree at City of Glasgow College, for which I achieved an A grade overall. At college, my passion for social work and its theories definitely emerged. At this time, I began working with the local authority social work team, supporting children and their families as a social work assistant. This job opened endless opportunities for me, including a chance to work within mental health and child protection in prisons. This job required me to develop new skills for working in social work and significantly built my resilience.

I am currently a residential worker in a secure accommodation facility. This offers a controlled and safe environment for the care and education of young people with welfare concerns or those in conflict with the law. This is where my passion for social work lies. I  find it very rewarding to work with vulnerable young people by supporting them through therapeutic intervention and following ‘The Promise’ – Scotland’s new government policy which has been implemented to ensure that care experienced children and young people grow up loved, safe and respected.

As mentioned above, I am currently on placement at Legal Services Agency until the end of June 2023. This is allowing me to further develop my understanding of the legal system with a social work perspective. This is essential to prepare me with knowledge on which social workers must be up to date, such as the law and policies which apply to the clients we support. My placement with LSA is giving me a fuller understanding of the legislation that I will use to make decisions, to ultimately provide the best quality care and to protect my clients from discrimination. I will also gain experience in setting out powers and duties that social workers use for investigations and assessments, and the duty we have when it comes to intervention in complex situations. An accurate understanding of law, therefore, is a crucial component of a social worker’s knowledge.

So far, I have supported solicitors to gain precognitions for their clients who have sought legal advice and assistance for many reasons. This includes guardianship cases, housing cases, employment issues and disability and discrimination issues. In particular, I have been working with those with mental health conditions and are on compulsory treatment orders. The interaction between law and social work in this area is of interest to me, as I consider the capacity issues associated with compulsory treatment orders and I believe it is important that every person has the right to voice their opinion regarding their care. LSA works with many clients who believe that this level of treatment is not necessary for them and want to appeal the order. The solicitor will then seek instruction from their client and advocate for alternative measures of care.

From day one, I received a warm welcome from everyone at LSA and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the team. I have found everyone to be very supportive, making sure to answer any questions I might have, as well as taking on board any suggestions I have from a social work perspective. Furthermore, I have been afforded plenty of opportunities to join in on client meetings, listen to Tribunal hearings and communicate with clients and third parties. I am also assisting the Seminar Manager to plan a legal education event targeted at social workers. This has been very beneficial in terms of growing my understanding and experience and I am pleased to have had a wide range of tasks to help with.

My passion for empowering clients has grown in the time I have been working at LSA and I am looking forward to further developing my skills and experiences in the coming weeks as I progress through my placement.