The New Futures Project is helping the next generation of social workers get ready for life on the frontline.
We offer placements to social work students from universities in Leicester and further afield, enabling dozens of undergraduates to spend between 70 and 100 days at the project helping the women it supports.
Each student is placed under the supervision of a qualified social worker and is responsible for a caseload of up to 12 women or young people.
This gives them invaluable real-life work experience before they resume their studies.
Overall, the students have had a massive impact on the lives of those they’ve worked with. In some cases it is no exaggeration to say their efforts have been life-changing.
The students say being confronted with the realities of the women’s lives – including the corrosive effects of homelessness, debt, substance use, mental ill-health, sexual abuse, domestic violence or prostitution – has a profound effect on them and gives them an invaluable insight into the profession.
University of Nottingham student Charlotte Dorney completed an 80-day placement with us.
The 20-year-old says: “You do case studies when you are in a classroom, but being here at New Futures has been completely different.
“I was a little overwhelmed at first, but the people here have been brilliant and supported us every step of the way.
“Without that support, as well as the other students, I don’t think I’d have been able to do this placement.
“I’ve worked with some people who are really struggling with issues like homelessness, sexual abuse or domestic violence.
“Some days it is very difficult not to take some of it home with you, especially at the beginning – I had one day early on when I broke down and cried.
“Being here has changed me 100 per cent. I have learned to be so much more patient and understanding and aware of how fortunate I am.
“It has made me even more certain that I want to go into voluntary sector social work.”
Rabiya Ali Khan, who is studying social work at Birmingham City University, spent 70 days with us.
The 36-year-old first began to consider a career in social work after becoming a foster carer more than a decade ago.
“I could relate to being a social worker because of my experience as a foster carer, but I have grown so much in confidence in the time I have been here on my placement,” she says.
“The work here is so broad. The women may be involved in sex work or are experiencing homelessness or financial hardship. There are so many stories.
“We work with our clients one on one. As far as I know, you don’t get that opportunity on most work placements.”
Olivia Wade, 20, who is also from Nottingham University, says: “All my housemates at university do sciences, learning complex scientific stuff and sometimes some of them take the mick out of me.
“Being at New Futures places you in a position of responsibility for someone’s life. It was very overwhelming at first but you learn so much as you go on.
“We have to work so hard at what we do to help people who are dealing with some of the most difficult issues a person can face.
“In my time here I’ve had people tell me they want to end their lives.
“I’ve had feedback from some of my clients and I’m proud to say they told me I have helped them begin to change their lives.
“It has been brilliant here because it is such a supportive team and it has shown me the realities of the job.”
Abi Bicknell, who manages our placements programme, says: “I think all of the students would say they felt a little overwhelmed at first.
“They are responsible for a caseload of around 12 and the women they are working with come from a variety of backgrounds.
“That could include women who are still involved in sex work or who are homeless, using substances, are socially isolated, are experiencing domestic violence, family breakdown or poverty.
“We hear lots of stories of violence but also issues of financial manipulation and exploitation. 100 per cent of the people we see have experienced trauma, nearly all as a result of males in their lives.
“A number of our clients have or are seeking asylum and have been through so much already in terms of what they experienced in their home countries and their journeys here.
“It is a big responsibility for our students, but they are protected every step of the way.
“I’m biased, but I think this is one of the best student placements for exposure to frontline social work there is.”
Click here to read how another of our former students was there for one woman in her time of greatest need.
Visit the training section of our website here for further details of the student placement scheme.
New Futures was set up more than 20 years ago to support women involved in sex work.
However, we have evolved into a welfare and counselling service for women and young people dealing with sexual abuse or exploitation – frequently involving domestic violence, trafficking, poverty and debt, substance use or mental ill-health.
Call us on 0116 251 0803 or send us a message at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find us at 71 London Road, Leicester, LE2 0PE.