The Great Hall was filled with excitement as social work professionals and students gathered for an event like no other in November.
Three London Metropolitan University MSc students in Social Work, Melissa Namwanje, Cindy Louise Martin and Gloria Mputu, took the initiative to invite Nana and Rob, the dynamic duo behind The Social Worker and the Mentor podcast, to create a space filled with thought-provoking topics and networking opportunities. This event was driven by students who recognised the need for authentic discussions about real-world issues related to the professions of Social Work and Education. They wanted to go beyond surface-level conversations and curate an interactive session designed to help both students and professionals enhance their skill sets in preparation for professional practice.
Cindy explained the motivation behind organising the event: While attending a live podcast of Rob and Nana at LSBU a year ago, it was then we had the idea. All universities teach the academic side of social work, which is beneficial for all our future practices and placement journeys. However, what is missing is the reality of Social Work and this I believe can only be taught by those that are still in practice.
Over 100 attendees from across and beyond London came together to reflect on their professional journeys. Social workers, psychologists and teachers – all those who share a common goal of improving society through their work.
Melissa pointed out the inclusive nature of the event and its ability to bring together professionals and students interested in social care: The event was not only tailored to students and social workers but was for every professional in the social care industry and people who are interested in pursuing that career. The event allowed other professionals and students to network, which was amazing to see.
The session covered strategies to combat burnout, placement experiences, multi-agency work settings, and effective techniques for organising and prioritising caseloads. A particularly engaging discussion centred around placements and students’ concerns about entering the field successfully. Rob and Nana shared their own placement stories, offering advice on building relationships with supervisors, managing challenges, and making the most out of learning opportunities.
Cindy emphasised how this discussion assisted students in preparing for what lies ahead: The event I feel will help students take off the rose-tinted glasses and prepare mentally for what is to come. Universities are very good at the theoretical side of social work, but as students, we need the raw frontline truth, and this is what I believe the podcast was able to provide.
Donna Jones, Head of Subject including Social Work was thrilled by the success of the event: I am immensely proud of what our MSc students have achieved in bringing this event to London Met. They have showed initiative, enthusiasm and commitment and have been brilliant ambassadors. Students, academics, and practitioner colleagues from across London and beyond supported this event by attending. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and these three students have developed important employability skills in the process!
Melissa, Cindy, and Gloria hope that this initiative will serve as a catalyst for similar events in the future initiated and organised by students and supported by both the Head of Social Work and Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Professions, that will continue development and collaboration within the social work sector.