On his last day working at the Booth Centre Dane, a Social Work student, reflects on his time here.
I first came to the Booth Centre in October 2020 on a 70-day placement as part of the second year of my Social Work degree. Before deciding to go back to university, my background was in sales; an industry that I kind of 'fell into' but never really felt right for me. When I left my last sales role, I got a job working with adults with complex mental health diagnoses to live independently. It was this that inspired me to go down the pathway of Social Work with adults, and a desire to support people who are marginalised by our society and the system(s) that we live under.
When my 70-day placement came to an end I was then very lucky to be taken on to work both part-time (while studying) and full time over the summer. My final year means that I need to do a 100-day placement at a different kind of service, which is sadly why my time at the Booth Centre is coming to an end. I do genuinely wish I could stay.
I’d been involved in campaigning before I came to the Booth Centre, so, felt like I had a relatively good understanding of the homeless situation, particularly in Manchester. However, when I started the placement, I soon realised that my understanding was only the very tip of the iceberg of the homeless/housing crisis in the UK.
On my first day, I saw people who had been street homeless for a number of years alongside people who were in employment but whose wages were not enough to cover stable accommodation; people who were from Manchester to people who had recently arrived and were struggling to navigate the immigration system. This is what first impressed me about the Centre, the diversity of people and situations that it was able to encourage and respond to. Working alongside the diverse range of people who visit the Centre has probably been what I have enjoyed most during my time here. It may sound cliched, but you genuinely don't know what each new day will bring; though what you do know, is that the Booth Centre will go some way towards bringing about positive change in people's lives.
Working at the Booth Centre has also challenged my view of certain things. Prior to coming here, I had never experienced (and so properly valued) the importance of an activities-based setting. Previously, I may have been a bit sceptical about how doing an activity, such as art or gardening, could benefit someone with numerous support needs. I realise now how misguided this was. Seeing the people who access the Centre not just receive the support for their needs on an individual basis, but also gain confidence, improved self-esteem, new skills (and much more!) in a relaxed social setting, is extremely impressive, and quickly made me understand the vital role that working together on activities can play.
It would be impossible for me to write about the Booth Centre and not mention the staff here, who are all amazing! - as soon as I arrived here, I felt a part of something, and have felt supported by all of my colleagues from day one. The broad range of expertise across the team is, for me, what makes it possible for the Centre to be able to work with such a diverse range of people and situations. It can sometimes seem a glib cliche to refer to a staff team or a workplace as a family, but from what I have experienced here at the Booth Centre that may not be far off. Something that highlights this for me was after a particularly challenging morning in the Centre, which put quite a lot of strain on the team, seeing how everyone rallied around to support each other will stay with me. I am certain I have made some friends that I will keep in touch with, and I can only thank each person on the team for the support that they have given me over the last ten months.
To any students who are coming to do their placement here, I would say that you'll go a long way to find a better placement. You will be confronted with a rich range of opportunities to learn, on an almost daily basis. There is much formal learning you'll get the chance to do; from advice around benefits to housing policies; to immigration and mental health. The best thing though is to just be able to work alongside such a diverse group of people and learning about their unique lives and experiences.
To say I will miss the Booth Centre is an understatement! I am excited about my next challenge, but I am also hopeful that someday I will be back to play a part in this incredible service.
Dane Yates, Project Worker