Diary of a social work student: ‘My head is full of questions about what makes someone vulnerable’

Student and blogger UKSocialWorker talks us through a typical week


Up at 6am, mainly because that’s when my neighbour’s alarm goes off. I can hear it through the wall, so, while they continue to snooze until 7am, I force myself out of bed. Monday’s are a study day for me and I spend the day reading in preparation for my essay on adult safeguarding in between copious amounts of tea-making, little bits of unpacking and procrastination.


Lectures from 9am-5pm mean the day goes at a fast pace. In line with the essay due for this module, this week’s lecture is on adult safeguarding. We cover legislation and the lack thereof, the new care and support bill (in brief) and safeguarding issues in the personalisation agenda. By the end of the day my head is full of questions to delve into later on; what is risk, whose risk is it to take and what makes someone vulnerable? I read a passage in the Learning Matters book of safeguarding adults that “in an unpredictable world we are all potentially vulnerable”, so what criteria do we have to meet to be eligible for support by policy makers?


We have alternate Wednesdays off, but as a student rep I usually have meetings booked in. Today I foraged the library in the morning and left with a stack of books, which I am optimistic will not just sit on my desk until someone else requests them. The afternoon is taken up with student rep training. We are told to “reach for the stars”. It’s corny, but the session is quite interesting and I come away full of ideas to discuss with the other students for improvements on the course and in general.


We usually have an intense day of lectures on social work with children, but today the lecturers are on strike. I am so grateful to have a day to catch up on reading and essay writing. There has been a guided study set, but I need to crack on with my essay so the guided study will have to wait until the weekend. I am looking over my notes about the Mental Capacity Act and the Mental Health Act, which were covered over the last two weeks. The lecturer highlighted the comparison society often makes between the “deserving” and the “undeserving ill”. I go into reflective overdrive as my placement last year was with female drinkers and I remember the stigma I felt with the women when supporting them to the doctors. Their concerns were often dismissed, even with my advocating.


Fridays are another study day – and I realise this must sound so relaxed to people, but there is so much to do and so little time. Today I start writing the essay I have been researching for. Why is it that I still don’t know where to start? I rewrite my essay plan because I think it is too broad. This seems to help as I have set myself more specific questions. I crack on and am feeling confident about my new plan. I just wish I had more time.

My weekend is spent trying to unpack in my new home, catching up on the guided study, topping up on my essay, coming to a standstill with it and reading in preparation for the following week.

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