"No doubt the reason is that character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved." - Hellen Keller
As a BSc (Hons) Sociology student at the University of Bath, it was encouraged that I take a placement year in industry between the second and third year of my degree. Placement years offer you many opportunities as well as gaining real life experience in the working world. The university has a great placement programme in place to help you find your ideal role, paid or unpaid, around the South West of England (Bath, Bristol and the surrounding areas) or further afield in places like London, and even abroad. As a head strong individual however, I was adamant that I didnt want to complete placement in a company or organisation that I didnt feel passionate about. This lead me to apply for Sense's Public Policy placement roles which they offer. The thought of putting my British Sign Language, healthcare consultancy agency experience and volunteer knowledge to use was very exciting! I sent Sense my CV, and was offered a one-to-one interview which went extremely well. Unfortunately, it transpired that I was not the right student for the role, as they felt the other two applicants had a stronger knowledge of public policy. They mentioned however that they really liked me as a candidate and as such would ask the many departments across Sense if any needed a student placement.
I was hopeful and optimistic that this setback would bring new and exciting things for me, though it is difficult to stay positive after any rejection. After a few weeks I was contacted by Sense who told me that the Knowledge team would love a student placement to help with the plethora of upcoming projects and publications they were working on. I traveled to the Sense Head Office for a second time, and met with the Knowledge Coordinator, later to be my line manager. The meeting was a success and I was offered the position of Knowledge Coordination Trainee. We talked about what I will be able to get out of the role, what I can offer Sense in the way of personal skills, and about the vast and diverse tasks I would be delegated. In a strange, but pleasant, turn of events I was much more suited and interested in this placement as it gave me the scope to see many different aspects of deafblindness, across a variety of teams.
As a Knowledge Coordination Trainee it will be my role to, as part of the Information, Advice and Research Department, to increase the range and quality of shared information available that supports deafblind people, Sense's strategic goals, national policy changes, learning pathways and development of best practice in Sense services.
It is an unpaid placement, but I will have my travel expenses within Greater London reimbursed, along with a £5.00 a day lunch allowance. I will be working 35 hours per week, 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.
I am extremely excited (but nervous) to start a new chapter of my university life!
Sense is a national charity that supports and campaigns for children and adults who are deafblind. The charity begun in the 1950s, before vaccination, when rubella epidemics were common in Britain. Hundreds of babies were born with congenital rubella syndrome, which causes damage to the ears, eyes and heart. In 1955 two mothers, Peggy Freeman and Margaret Brock caught rubella while pregnant. As a result, their children are born deafblind. However, during this time there was little support or information available. They contact 10 families with rubella children and the Rubella Group is born. They had assests of £2.5s.0d, which in today's money is £48. Nowadays, Sense has an annual turnover of £58 million. The families share news about their children's development through a newsletter, which would be sent to one another before being added to, and sent on to the next family. This newsletter is still going strong today, as the Sense magazine Talking Sense.
Deafblindness refers to a combination of sight and hearing impairment which causes difficulties in a range of areas including communication, access to information and mobility. Sense offers high-quality, flexible services across the UK, using skilled staff and a dedicated network of volunteers. Sense works with a wide range of deafblind and multi-sensory impaired people, as well as those who have a single-sensory impairment with additional needs. Sense takes pride in offering specialist services built around the wishes of each person we support and enabling them to be as independent as possible. Sense works with children, young people, adults and older people with a progressive sight and hearing loss, offering a range of housing, educational and leisure opportunities.
(Information taken from the Sense website.)