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University of Lincoln Graduate Establishes Unique Lincolnshire Counselling Hub

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A University of Lincoln graduate has established a successful counselling service in Lincolnshire supporting local children, young people and families. Alex Parkin, from Lincoln, graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care from the University in May 2017 shortly after co-founding the successful NW Counselling Hub CIC. Having worked in various care and supporting roles for most of her adult life, Alex felt that there was a gap in the provision and support available. With some communities in Lincolnshire finding it difficult to access mental health support, and counselling services, Alex and co-founder Naomi Watkins recognised the need to make counselling services more accessible in the county. The counselling hub now has a team of eighteen trained counsellors, offering mental health support for local communities as well as training opportunities for those looking to pursue a career in counselling. The hub provides a range of supportive therapies to suit age, need and demand and has been specially designed to create an environment where people feel comfortable and safe to talk. The team also has two therapy dogs.

Alex said: “People can sometimes be waiting months for the counselling support they need in the here and now. By creating the hub ourselves, we have been able to tailor a service for the wider community. Since opening in April 2017, we have been able to help more than 180 people. We believe this is down to the family-friendly feel, our open-minded staff and the lack of waiting lists along with the funding support we can provide.

She said her time at the University of Lincoln studying Health and Social Care had enabled her to develop her ideas.

“The course wasn’t just focused on one way of thinking or one specific idea,” she said. “In addition to the underpinning laws, policies and guidance, the course offered varied modules, viewpoints and learning materials which have enabled me to take a holistic approach to my job now. “I believe being self-employed and running a company has allowed me to use the knowledge even more as I have been able to use the teaching materials and also my tutor’s experiences and knowledge to ensure I shape the business in a way that works for the service user and empowers them. I couldn’t be where I am now without the tutors on the Health and Social Care team.”

Julie Burton, Programme Leader in the College of Social Science at the University of Lincoln said: “Alex is quite simply inspirational. She has taken every opportunity offered while at University and used it to its full advantage.

“Alex actually met her co-director when attending a Domestic Abuse conference organised by the students which led to work-based practice. Alex was also a student rep and we have seen her confidence grow so much during her time studying Health and Social Care.”

If you have something you would like us to post here, please email: collegesocialscience@lincoln.ac.uk

Criminology Graduate Case Study

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Background

In June 2015, I graduated from the University of Lincoln with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Criminology with First Class Honours. Some of the modules I studied included Psychology and Crime, Criminal Justice and Criminology in the Professions. These modules in particular stood out for me and helped me to realise that I wanted to pursue a career in either the Prison Service or the Probation Service. Alongside my studies, I decided that I wanted to engage in volunteering opportunities and work experience which would help put some of the theory I was learning into practice. I applied to be a Youth Offender Mentor with Lincolnshire Action Trust and was successful in my application. Lincolnshire Action Trust provided me with full training and paired me with a young offender who required guidance and support from a mentor. The role required me to act as a pro-social model for the young person and communicate with other agencies such as Youth Offending Teams. I also took part in the Employer Mentoring Scheme which was offered by the University which was an invaluable experience. I was mentored by a senior manager of Lincolnshire Probation trust and shadowed many key aspects of their work. This allowed me to gain work experience in the Prison Service, the Crown Court and with Probation officers. Around 4 months prior to finishing my degree I decided to start searching and applying to jobs that took my interest. It was a very stressful time to start applying for jobs as I was in the middle of my dissertation but I felt it could give me an advantage by applying early. I applied for three jobs, all quite different; admin role in the courts, a Restorative Justice Facilitator and Offender Supervisor. I was offered an interview for two out of the three jobs I applied for and in April 2015 I was fortunate enough to be offered the job of Offender Supervisor for the Prison Service. I started this role in July 2015 and almost two years later I am still thoroughly enjoying my work!

Employment Experience

As an Offender Supervisor working for the Prison Service, my key role is to support, coach and motivate offenders through their sentence. On average I work with a caseload of between 60 and 70 offenders who are a mixture of high risk, low risk and life sentenced prisoners. I am required to make regular assessments on offenders in regards to factors such as their level of risk to themselves and others, their criminogenic needs and their physical and mental wellbeing. I work closely with the Probation Service and help devise sentence plan targets for offenders to address their needs and risks. Examples of this could be, completing an offending behaviour programme or addressing drug and alcohol problems. I am responsible to making referrals to other departments such as psychology, mental health and substance misuse and liaise closely with them on a daily basis. I am also required to write reports for re-catergorisation of offenders and for the parole process. I represent offenders at oral hearings and make recommendations for potential release.

Lincoln Award

The Lincoln Award helped me to develop key skills such as CV writing, interview techniques and how to complete application forms. The Lincoln Award also offered me the opportunity to complete a Mental Health First Aid course which I could add to my CV and talk about in my interviews. To pass the award I was required to complete a mock interview which gave me excellent practice for upcoming real interviews and provided me with constructive feedback and advice going forward.

Best Career Advice

My best advice would be to try and gain some volunteering or work experience whilst at University. Although it can be difficult finding something that’s right for you and doesn’t affect your studies the benefits it offers can make a huge difference! I really noticed in my interviews that although my degree was important the key factor was what practical experience I had and what real life situations I had dealt with. Be confident when you are applying for jobs and in your interviews. Do you research so you are fully prepared for any questions they may ask you, show enthusiasm and don’t be afraid to apply for things which may be out your comfort zone!

If you have something you would like us to post here, please email: collegesocialscience@lincoln.ac.uk

Sport Development and Coaching Graduate Video

Sophie very kindly agreed to meet with us to talk about what she has been doing since she graduated from the University of Lincoln and to offer advice to other students who are studying Sport Development and Coaching. We are really proud of everything Sophie has achieved since graduating and we wish her the very best for the future!

If you have something you would like us to post here, please email: collegesocialscience@lincoln.ac.uk