Our summer student volunteers
Over the summer, we hosted two student volunteers, Fahmida and Hager, from the Nuffield Research Programme. They supported our Engagement Manager Natalia’s two projects for children and young people in Lambeth:
- Looking at the experience of transition in children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) to adult services; and
- Looking at improving the provision of initial health assessments of children in care.
The volunteers helped with doing literature review and taking notes during 11 focus group discussions with social workers. They also helped Natalia in analysing the findings from the focus groups.
It was a pleasure to have them both and so we asked to hear their feedback and thoughts about the experience of volunteering with us.
Here’s what Fahmida said:
“Jumping out of my comfort zone”
I decided to volunteer with Healthwatch Lambeth because I wanted to jump out of my comfort zone and try something different. Having to take notes on key points made during interviews as well as follow what the group were saying at the same time was something I hadn’t done before. What I hoped to get out of the placement was key skills on researching and conducting interviews which I most definitely did.
“Why I decided to volunteer with Healthwatch”
Healthwatch Lambeth’s work is very important because it researches into the problems of the social care and health sectors. During my placement, I had the opportunity to research why many looked after children and young people were not having their initial health assessments completed. We held focus group discussions with social workers, managers, Independent Reviewing Officers, and Business Support Officers to gather their views on the problem. Originally, I was completely unfamiliar with the social care system however, due to this experience, I now know what the main processes and groups involved in a looked after child’s time in care are. Recurring problems to do with management and communication between groups was something that I explored during my time working with Healthwatch Lambeth.
“Challenges, achievements and things I learned”
What I most enjoyed were the discussions. I found them very interesting because some groups had positive opinions and others had negative ones. I found researching and writing the literature review to be challenging, however I received a lot of guidance and help which allowed me to write up a complete literature review that I’m proud of. As a result of this, I developed effective research skills and learned how to correctly reference literature.
I also learnt that finding and accessing relevant information from sources were very difficult however, I was guided to a few websites that had legitimate, useful articles and research papers. This experience is definitely valuable as it enriches the skills, such as research and independence, that are needed for university and further education.