The school's partnership with Leeds City Council means there are lots of opportunities for interesting placements
Student spotlight | Tom Creasey, MA Social Work
I’m Tom Creasey, a first year MA Social Work student at Leeds Beckett. I live in York with my girlfriend Emily and my dog Juno who has been my research assistant over the last few months of studying from home. Before enrolling on the course I worked as an administrator in mental health services for seven years.
- Course: MA Social Work
Tell us a bit about yourself and what drew you to Social Work
Retraining as a social worker was something I’d thought about for a long time before I applied in clearing last year. I had been working in mental health services for a few years and, despite being really interested in the area, I had become increasingly frustrated at the lack of opportunities for progression. I felt like I wanted to work with patients and service users rather than spend my day reading about other professionals’ work with them. Through my job I had regular contact with AMHPs, who are specialist mental health social workers, and it was something I always thought would be really interesting and exciting as a career. Unfortunately, my financial situation meant leaving my job to retrain wasn’t a realistic option for quite a few years. Over this time the rules around access to higher education also changed. This meant that despite already having a degree, I had to delay my plans for another year and resit my GCSE maths at night school. I was initially quite apprehensive and worried I’d struggle to adjust to education after so long, but resitting my maths GCSE really boosted my confidence and actually made me more motivated, quit my comfortable but boring office job and take the red pill!
What made you choose Leeds Beckett?
I applied through Clearing so my application process was probably a bit different to most people’s. Leeds Beckett was always on my radar as it’s where I did my undergraduate degree, although it was called Leeds Metropolitan University in those days! I had looked at a number of universities, but decided not to apply anywhere initially. I was conscious that if I didn’t get my GCSE maths grade I would have to withdraw any application and knew I’d be devastated if I was accepted but then didn’t get the grade I needed. I felt it was important to just focus on getting my maths in the bag and then look for places in Clearing. I had a few conversations with members of the School at Leeds Beckett over this time and found them really supportive and encouraging, which wasn’t the case for some of the other universities I spoke to. I was also aware that the School’s partnership with Leeds City Council would mean there were a lot of opportunities for interesting placements, which is really important in studying social work.
What has been your favourite thing about your time studying at Leeds Beckett?
This is a tough question! It’s been a really difficult year to study as I’m sure anyone who’s been in education over the last few months will know. Lockdown restrictions really hampered the teaching side of things, although the staff did everything they could to make the experience as normal as it could be. Fortunately, over the duration of my placement in the Fostering Service, lockdown restrictions eased and I was able to visit foster carers and looked after children in person. I loved having the responsibility to carry out visits independently and my personal highlight was leading a supervisory visit with one of the fostering couples as part of their annual review and using the practice skills I’d been learning about since September in a real-life situation. I then got to take part in the review meeting and give my professional opinion on them as carers which was pretty surreal.
What advice would you give someone thinking about studying this course?
Do some research and think about which area of social work you might like to work in before you apply. Social work is such a diverse profession that I wasn’t aware of most of the teams and departments before I started the course. The final year placement is 100 days, and the team will try to place you in an area that you’re interested in so it’s a great opportunity to trial it and see if it’s right for you. I’d also encourage anyone interested in the course to take part in one of the open days where you can meet current students and staff, and get a feel for what it’s actually like to study social work.