Humanities & Social Sciences placements

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences' students share their placement and year abroad experiences.

Tagged: community

Being Welcomed into Twerton

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📥  Social & Policy Sciences

This year I am spending time living and working alongside the Church of England in Twerton, Bath. I am gaining experience in social work, Christian ministry and theological studies. At 2.5 months in, there is a lot to learn...

What is Twerton like?

Twerton is found in the west of the city of Bath and has a population of almost 6,000. When I walk from home into Twerton I walk through housing estates, the colours in keeping with the beige-y creamness of the rest of Bath, and I look out to the gorgeous green fields in the distance. I hear trains crossing the railway bridge which boundaries Twerton from Lower Weston. As I get onto the highstreet (where a lot seems to happen!) there are usually people around. I often pass people who have visible disabilities. The Government Area Profile in 2011 stated that just over 20% of the population experienced a limiting long-term illness, the highest proportion in Bath and above the national average. There are a few people I pass who sit on a bench opposite the church offices, often men, and who I'm told are often waiting for a drug drop-off.

A recent report states that over a third of local children live in poverty, making Twerton the poorest ward in Bath. At a wider perspective, Twerton falls into the 10% most deprived areas of England. Looking at the Government Area Profile from 2011, the number of people who were unemployed was above the national average, and 31.73% of people (16 years and over) had no qualifications, the highest percentage in Bath and way above the national average of 17.92%. In day-to-day life these statistics play out as many families accessing free school meals, poor mental health gripping many members of the population, low-level educational attainment and crime, among other realities.

I share with others on the church staff team a sense of refreshment needed for Twerton. Many of us have used language around water, I saw an image in my mind's eye of a river flowing down through Twerton, the community being filled with life. Others have talked about colour and a rekindling and redirecting of the energy and quirkiness which Twerton holds so much of. God is providing hope and reshaping the way we can sometimes see the area through these images and words He seems to 'download' to us.

What is happening? What are my responsibilities?

I work sort of part-time across MANY different areas of church life. It has been interesting so far to get a picture of what the church is doing in the community, and to take a bit of time to dream about what new things could spring to life.

Church family -staff meetings, church meetings, life group
Church responsibilities -worship team, children's work, youth work, student work
Local community -waitressing at 'Rose Cottage' community cafe
School work -helping the chaplain at local junior school with after-school club and lunchtime mentoring, as well as future 'accompanying project' meeting weekly 1-1 with a year 6 student transitioning into year 7
Practical Theology course -over in Bristol once a week at Mullers House, completing regular assignments and helping to lead morning worship

There are two other interns here with me: Beth and Scott. Where I focus a bit more on student work, Beth focuses on youth and children's work, and Scott focuses on 'The Rec House'; an arts centre used by local creatives to record and perform. Spot us being introduced at church at the beginning of this podcast.

Where am I living?

I am living with the family of the curate of St Michael's. Joel, Lella and their two young children Heidi (4) and Austin (2) have so kindly welcomed me into their home for this time I am with the church. It is fun to learn to live with new people, particularly with another family unit. It is a very special home which sees people visiting fairly regularly. It is a lovely haven for me to rest and enjoy family life. It is so much fun playing with the kiddies, reading stories and spinning them around on the lazy-susan from the kitchen (LOL). It is a privilege to be part of this family's routine, welcomed into their home life, and I enjoy cooking, eating and sharing what I am learning and going through in life with them.

What is God teaching me/speaking to me about? If you pray, what can you pray for?

  • Working in the midst of societal pressures and struggles and human needs is TOUGH! Working with so many people who have challenges with their mental health is really tricky
  • It is so important to look after and keep ourselves healthy when we are giving so much of ourselves to others
  • Divides: how does St Michaels' bridge the divides we have in society, even in the church?!
  • The future is exciting!!! But I'm here now so I want to be fully present.
  • Keeping up with friends outside of this little world can be a challenge, life in Twerton COULD take ALL of my energy if I let it
  • How do we live out this wisdom of God which sends ripples into the powers of darkness?!

 

25.11.2013

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📥  Social & Policy Sciences

Today was another chance for a really good chance and insight into Sense and its services. A few new people at the organization and I visited Café 55 in Exeter. This is both a base for Sense’s intervenor service in the South West, which provides specialist one-to-one support for congenitally deafblind individuals, and a fully operating café open at the moment Mondays to Saturdays 10-4pm. Café 55 is Sense’s flagship community café and is run by deafblind and disabled volunteers.

Café 55 offers a person-centred approach service which ensures that deafblind people are enabled to make and act on choices that are important to them.

 Its is also used as a base for other Sense services including Supported Living and Residential services and offer rooms and areas with flexible hiring arrangements for both daytime and evening clubs and events. These rooms also include multi-sensory environments used to sooth individuals and initiate exploration of objects.

The café is used in the evenings and weekends by various charities and youth clubs on a regular basis enjoying our safe and secure environment. The café’s aims are underpinned by Sense’s Charter which includes the vision of a world in which all deafblind children and adults can be full and active members of society. Deafblind people are offered the opportunity to gain work experience in catering, be part of a team and learn new skills that may lead to employment. The café serves a variety of drinks and snacks including a salad bar, and is very competitively priced. We all had paninis with salads and crisps and they were delicious! It is fully wheelchair accessible and has two disabled toilets, as well as a children’s area, high chairs, free wi-fi, a reader and a plasma screen to enjoy.

We received an extremely warm and enthusiastic welcome from the people who run the café and its hiring services. We were given teas and coffees and allowed a few moments to relax from the three hour journey down from London and walk to the café-who knew Exeter had so many hills! We gave our lunch orders to a staff member who is profoundly deaf with limited vision. He also has severe learning difficulties, and a complex heart condition. To see the freedom and confidence Sense helps people develop is really awe-inspiring. Growing up with a best friend who had brain damage, I know how important it is to live a life where you are not excluded from any activities which other people-especially people your age-partake in. Even if it takes extra planning or risk assessment, it is imperative that activities are inclusive to all, including the right to work in a safe and enjoyable environment. Sense has clearly got this right in the café as it has pictures relating to sign language to help you order your food and drink, whilst attaining the highest levels of food hygiene rating, Café 55 has thought of so many ways to excel. We were then showed around the café and the building, including the arts and crafts room, stage, multi-sensory environment, therapy room with various lights, the offices, conference rooms and second-story garden.

We then headed back downstairs for lunch and upon finishing it was already time to come back to London town!

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