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Jo Shimell

Jo tells us about her work with a charity as part of her Work-Based Placement module

Where did you go on your placement?

I completed my placement with the UK Berkshire based charity ‘Just Around the Corner’ (JAC). JAC is a charity committed to engaging with young people and their families, enabling and empowering them to make positive choices in their lives. JAC’s emphasis is on working with young people who are in education and those who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). In 2008 JAC was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and each year JAC works with over 2000 young people. The charity’s Rehoboth Centre provides a number of different activities which encourage the personal development of young people. JAC also provides Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) which enables participants to learn about themselves and others by engaging in activities with the horses and then processing and discussing their thoughts, beliefs, behaviours and patterns. Most of the young people who visit JAC are struggling with behavioural, emotional, social or learning difficulties and the EAL sessions are delivered to young people in small groups or on a 1-1 basis. The young people that attend JAC are often referred to JAC’s EAL programmes from Social Services, Schools, Local Education Authorities, Pupil Referral Units, Youth Services and Parents.

Why did you want to do a placement in this type of setting? What were you hoping to get out of it?

As I have previously volunteered and completed placements in a variety of schools, my initial reason to complete my placement at JAC was to gain experience in a Charity setting. By the end of the placement I aimed to understand how working in a school differed from working in a Charity both practically and in terms of policy and procedures. Additionally, due to the nature of JAC, my second aim was to learn more about Equine Assisted Learning and how this could help children with a wide range of difficulties. Finally, I hoped to undertake my own craft related project within the charity with a focus on self-esteem and confidence building.

How do you foresee your placement contributing to your future career aspirations?

When I started this course, like many other Education students, I believed that after I completed my degree I would train to become a teacher. However, over the duration of this course I have realised that teaching is not the future career for me. Therefore, this placement module gave me the opportunity to explore a different aspect and area of education. Although JAC is an extremely unique charity, I would highly recommend students contacting their local children’s and/or young people’s charities to gain experience if they wish to explore a different career path. My time with JAC has made me revaluate my career aspirations and I am now exploring the option of developing a career in Art Therapy.

What has been your favourite part of your placement?

The staff and volunteers created a really relaxed and friendly atmosphere at JAC and I thoroughly enjoyed my placement with them. Observing and participating in the EAL sessions run by the specialists was one of my favourite parts of the placement with JAC. However, my favourite part of my placement was creating and delivering my own craft-related session to two groups of young people. The session included creating posters about what made them special and I showed the young people a variety of different drawing techniques which they found fascinating and gave them the confidence and inspired them to produce their own drawings, including one of the young people who initially refused to participate as he thought he was no good at drawing. The young people really open up during the activities and at the end of the session they thanked me for ‘the best JAC session ever’. I found this experience of working with young people outside a school setting extremely rewarding.