What made you choose to study your course?
I chose the Leadership and Management in Social Work and Social Care course, as at the time I was an Advanced Practitioner with Lancashire County Council’s Young People’s Service (now known as the Wellbeing, Prevention and Early Help Service), and I wanted to extend my knowledge relating to Leadership and Management within the context of Social Work and Social Care.
I was acutely aware of the increased demands and issues as presented by children, young people and adults, as well as complexities regarding social issues, health and education from my own casework and that of the teams of staff I managed. I also valued the importance of studying Leadership and Management at an academic level to gain knowledge and depth and transferable skills for future endeavours and positions of leadership.
What did you do after graduation?
Smiled with relief and then watched the dramas and documentaries I had missed due to extensive reading and research! I then set up my own business as an Independent Trainer entitled C.A.T. Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Training. I also travelled to America where my son represented Great Britain in the World Series BMX Championships. I then pursued further knowledge and connections by attending National and Regional Conferences and events related to Child Sexual Exploitation and Safeguarding. After this, (on my return to England) I attended regional and national conferences in the UK regarding CSE.
Job title, company name and brief description about your duties:-
When I started at UCLan I was an Advanced Practitioner for Preston and Fylde Young People’s Service, responsible for staff teams who worked with children, young people and families with vulnerabilities and complex needs who required early interventions to help towards personal, social and educational outcomes with an overall aim of improved health and wellbeing for all concerned.
I left Lancashire County Council in 2017 to complete my PGCE in Leadership and Management in Social Work and Social Care and commence work as an Independent Trainer regarding Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Training (CSE).
Please tell us about the journey that brought you to this position - including any previous work or relevant life experience: -
I began my professional career as a Primary School Teacher, working in North London for several years before taking up a County post for Lancashire Youth and Community Service as a Senior Youth Worker.
I worked for Lancashire County Council for 26 years as a Senior Youth Worker and then an Advanced Practitioner working across Lancashire. Whilst in Preston I got involved in Trainer Training related to Child Sexual Exploitation and from there I continued my interest and commitment to address child abuse by perusing further training with specialist organisations, including Safe and Sound Child Sexual Exploitation specialists and PACE (Parents against Child Exploitation). Over the years the number of CSE cases have increased significantly and the need to address grooming and abuse via social media has been dramatically evident. It was the involvement with children and young people that led me to consider the role of Trainer with a CSE focus. In addition to this, my participation in The Big Idea – UCLan’s undergraduate team-orientated business project - gave me inspiration as I listened to various guest speakers each with a different business concept. My team won the Most Innovative Business Idea and it was this outcome that gave me the push to set up C.A.T.
What are your lasting memories of your time at UCLan?
The Social Pedagogy course provided a multitude of interactive activities that were stimulating and thought provoking as well as being a great deal of fun! Creating a visual representation of the meaning of Social Pedagogy through collage was testing and hilarious, as was guiding a conga-style walk of 30 students through three floors with everyone blindfolded! I have also enjoyed meeting the vast array of visiting lecturers and engaging in dynamic and challenging discussions.
Other memories I have of UCLan include the links between the Campus and my family history. My partner, Simon, completed his BSc Honours five years ago at UCLan. My dad was a student at the Harris Technical College over 36 years ago and attended his lessons in the original Harris building (now the old part of Foster building), the same place my daughter studied and completed her MA in Law. On my graduation day I want a photo taken on the steps next to the majestic stone dragon. That moment will be priceless.
What is your greatest achievement since graduation?
My greatest achievement since graduation has been having the ability and assertiveness to begin something new, take risks and courageously face unknown territory.
Furthermore, from the wide range of experiences as part of the PGCE combined with personal research and regional and national conferences I have attended, I feel confident in challenging people’s attitudes, and sometimes disapproval, with the ability to perceive, regardless of the financial and psychological difficulties that often exist as blocks to progression and achievement.
Last, but by no means least, I value the resilience and skills to succeed I have acquired from academic study amidst the challenge of work and home life balance.
What advice would you give to graduates wanting to do something similar, or what message would you like to give to those thinking of taking up study?
Do it and don’t be afraid to face your demons. I can remember being in floods of tears at the beginning of the course because I couldn’t comprehend some of the lectures and I seriously contemplated giving up! Sometimes you need to push yourself and raise your own expectations but with a realisation that progress can be with a ‘stepping stone’ approach. As the saying goes, when eating an elephant, take one bite at a time (though why anyone would want to eat an elephant in the first place amazes me).
Have you received any awards, appointments, had any publications or are there any other accomplishments you would like to tell us about?
I have had a 20 minute radio interview regarding CSE Awareness and Social Media with Leyland Festival Radio. I also met the MP for South Ribble, Seema Kennedy, who wished me luck with my venture to begin CSE Awareness Training and Marie Desmond, MBE who praised my initiative.
Has your degree, or your experiences at UCLan had any particular impact on your current employment or your life in general?
A visit to one of UCLan’s Career Advisors led to my participation in The Big Idea undergraduate business project which contributed towards my reflection and analysis of my strengths and professional interests which led to further CSE specialist training and ultimately to my decision to leave Lancashire County Council and set up as an Independent Trainer.
My life is currently challenging, varied and demanding. I have clear aims of what I want to achieve, yet at the same time acknowledging the value of flexibility and responsiveness. I want to address the serious issues of ignorance and omitted opportunities regarding CSE and Child Sexual Abuse by working in different ways with different partners to contribute towards change in our society.
18 June 2018