TRAINING AND LEARNING
Trainee social workers in the office
The Sweet Project is a Social Enterprise, Not for Profit agency that has two main aims of combining academia and service delivery within the community of South Birmingham. The Sweet Project is one of the largest independent trainee social work learning and training units in the country. The founders of The Sweet Project came up with the unique and cost effective robust model for trainee social work students to deliver quality services to children, families and vulnerable adults under the guidance of specialist Practice Educators and Senior practitioners.
To date we have trained over 1,000 students from 48 universities across the country providing placements which enable trainees to hold manageable caseloads to ensure they gain valuable insight and experience into practical service delivery. Throughout placements students access mandatory training which underpins HCPC codes of practice. When the project began in 2010 one of our local university's was the first university to test this unique model of working .
On the first day of business we received 29 referrals for service delivery most of which required urgent intervention. By the middle of 2010 our reputation was starting to grow and further universities were wanting to place students at The Sweet Project and we now have 48 universities on board.
The feedback received from universities has been excellent which has resulted in many placing increasing number of trainees . Not only have we provided a unique training and learning platform for trainee social workers but we also support final year trainees to secure employment in Local Authorities and voluntary sector agencies throughout the country as newly qualified social workers within both children and families and adult sectors.
Our current employment figures show that 98% of all finals secure employment in social work. For our first year trainees we provide real life interventions with children and adults, in a safe and supported setting. On-going training is available to increase insight, confidence, competence, understanding of current legislation.
By linking theory to practice we enable trainees to recognise the importance of assessments which provides a greater understanding into all forms of abuse. Being able to recognise the impact of poverty and social deprivation in this current climate of austerity enables first years to transition onto their final placement with a grounded understanding of the role of a social worker.
"I worked with The Sweet Project for 3.5 years through the University of Northampton until March 2017 in my capacity as a lecturer in social work and placement lead. Their support and guidance to social work students on placements was of a really good standard. They forged an individual working relationship with each student, identifying and or supporting each students learning and personal needs to facilitate an effective learning environment for students on placement. Students who completed placement at The Sweet Project reported an interactive and current methods of teaching which encourage reflection and analysis a key skill for social workers. I would recommend The Sweet Project as a placement provider."
University of Northhampton
" The University of Wolverhampton has placed final year students at The sweet Project in the last two accademic years after a recomendation from a colleague on the social work course. I did have some unease about how the number of students would have access to good learning and work opportunites but these fears were unfounded. Jayne Hulbert and Jayne Cresswell have been two of the most enthusiastic placement managers that i have ever worked with. They have demonstrated a passion and commitment for social work education and the student journey. Their passion stems from a commitment to working with a diverse range of people in need primarily in the South Birmingham area. Students have carried out work that reflects their level of learning.
"Student feedback received to date has been very postive. The practice placement at Sweet has been discribed as "excellent" due to the complexity of work that has been undertaken, which enabled one student "to learn and develop confidence" The other area that students have commented on is the support available e.g " the amount of support has been overwhelming and really helped me to improve my practice, knowlegdge and skills" and I felt able to deal with diffcult situations as iIknew the support was available". Students would highly recommend this placement to other students.
There is a need for high quality practice placements in the West Midlands and The Sweet Project contiunues to develop the resources that will be available to students. To date this has included employing further practice Educators who are based on site and are on hand to support students. The project is well placed to respond to the SWRB recommendations"
Ms Marvia Chambers (placement Manager ) University of Wolverhampton
"Sweet provides an opportunity for students to learn and develop the knowledge , skills and values required by a professional social worker in a protected nurturing enviroment. Feedback from our students has been outstanding and whilst some agencies are not prepared to accept students who need to repeat their placement Sweet have always been there to offer an excellent learning opportunity that takes into account their learning needs. Nothing ever seems too much trouble for the team. I wish they were based closer to Derby so that we could send them more students. Many organisations could learn a great deal from Sweets methods of supporting students in learning"
Paul Reed, Assistant Deputy Head of department /Snr lecturer of practice, Derby University. 2018
The Sweet Project are extremely proud of what they have managed to achieve over the last 8 years by not only providing quality placements to all 48 universities but also by providing quality interventions within South Birmingham.
To date we have worked with 8,544 individuals in the local community. The Sweet Project also works in partnership with Birmingham adults and childrens services, health, education, police, fire service, local church, housing, local nursing homes and also accept self referrals.
In-house training at The Sweet project to prepare therepeutic resources for direct work sessions
The Sweet Project has seen a significant increase in referrals being received year on year. The nature of referrals range from child protection, adult safeguarding, domestic abuse, debt , poor housing social isolation, direct work with children and vulnerable adults. As we are a large trainee social work unit we have the people power to action referrals in a very short time frame, which given the level of need in South Birmingham means we are one of the largest provider of services and we are without doubt bridging the gap in ever diminishing vital interventions. For more info on who we are and what we do please visit our website at www.sweetproject.co.uk
The Sweet Project has a proven track record of providing a unique model of working within all areas of domestic abuse, the main focus of which is the impact for the child. We provide 3 separate specialist programmes; one for survivors, one for perpetrators and we also provide direct work with children living with abuse either at school or at our unit. The Sweet Project work in most primary schools across South Birmingham and have seen a significant rise in disclosures and referrals for domestic abuse . Therapeutic resources are a vital part of our intervention when working with children who are entrenched in a traumatic home environment. From December 2015 to January 2018 The Sweet Project has received and worked with 61 perpetrators of Domestic Abuse.
Current statistics from the NSPCC show:
- 1 in 5 children have been exposed to domestic violence
- Domestic Violence is a factor in over half of all serious case reviews
- A third of children witnessing domestic violence will also experience another form of abuse.
- Children exposed to domestic violence are more likley to have behavioural and emotional problems
- Reports of children affected by domestic violence soar by 77% in the last 4 years.
- Reports show 130,000 children in the uk live in households with high risk domestic violence.
Example of a child's disclosure taken during a therapeutic direct work session
"The Sweet Project combines student learning with family support and services to adults in the South of Birmingham. The results that come from this combination never cease to amaze and are frequently life changing to all people involved"
Peter Hay CBE - ex Children Families and Adults directorate Birmingham Local Authority 2018
" The Sweet Project is an outstanding organisation. It really makes a difference to the local community. Helping people move out of crisis situations and preventing others from going into crisis. All money raised by The Sweet Project goes to helping Vulnerable individuals and families. The staff team are hugely committed and the past 8 years of hard work and dedication is reflected in the 100s of students who have receeived training and 100s of families which have received support which they would not have received without the support of the Sweet Project".
Kevin Lloyd Evans - Big Issue Invest Regional Investment Manager Midlands and North East England 2018
"The way SWEET blends social work training with family support is unique and invaluable. Students are supported in gaining direct experience of real life case work in ways that are both challenging and provide them with a solid grounding for their future careers. I also know that I am not alone in appreciating the practical help that SWEET provides to some of the most vulnerable individuals and families in South Birmingham often in circumstances where there are no other agencies they can turn to. Referral to SWEET is a lifeline for so many people so please help Crowdfund SWEET to help keep that lifeline in place.
Richard Burden - MP Birmingham Northfield
WHY THE SWEET PROJECT NEED YOUR SUPPORT
The Sweet Project urgently needs more therapeutic resources to help them meet the increasing demand for referrals for direct work in schools. Referrals include significant mental health, escalating behavioural issues, low self esteem , low attainment, poor attachment, self-harm and suicidal throughts all of which generally results in the child being excluded from school which in some cases can place the child at further risk of harm.
Equally for schools erratic behaviour within the school setting can impact on not only the child in question but also their peers. This means that schools have to make diffcult decisions around temporary or permanent exclusion . In these cases we provide 1 to 1 intervention and the use of specialist therapeutic play to minimise the risk of harm. Many of these sessions will result in child protection disclosures .
Our project is struggling to meet the demand for these interventions; currently we have over 300 cases of this nature open . Not only do we require these much need therapeutic games but we also want to secure enough funds to employ a specialist childrens worker to work soley on this project. This worker will pass on their specialist skills and knowledge to trainee social workers and having gained a better understanding will be able to work effectively to reduce the impact of domestic abuse for vulnerable children.
In addition our aim is to set up a resource libary where trainees will have access to all the vital tools needed to work in a highly sensitive setting enabling children to feel comfortable through play to express complex issues they are living with on a daily basis. These resources play a powerful part in helping children speak out and get the help they desperately need to ensure they are safe from risk and harm. Equally these resourses are a valuable learning tool for understanding the impact of domestic abuse for the child.
COST OF RESOURCES
Conversation dice per pack £40.00
Mood cards per pack £50.00
Fidgit bags £100.00
Anger per game £100.00
Feelings and emotions per game £100.00
Neglect per game £100.00
General arts and crafts currently cost the project per week £20.00
Safe house - £50.00
Examples of vital resources needed when working with vulnerable children
To employ a full time childrens worker to work across all 3 programmes providing learning tools, knowledge and skills to trainees would cost £30,000 pa. This funding will secure the post for two years the remainder of funding would increase the vital rescources we despartely need to meet the ever increasing number of children being referred into our project on a daily basis.
Each month it costs £30,000 to run The Sweet Project. Our main income is from the daily placement fee which is currently £20 per student per day. 1st placements consist of 70 days and final placements consist of 100 days. We receive very little other funding. Even though we are a not for profit social enterprise we have to pay full rent and rates which costs in the region of £38,000 a year.
Between 2010 and 2014 our project was not reliant on any funding and was able to offer services completely free of charge. For four years SWEET provided the most cost effective model of service delivery within Birmingham. The daily placement fee at that time was £28.00 per day . In September 2014 the daily placement fee was significantly reduced by the DOH and the DFE to £20.00 per day. This reduction had a major financial impact on the business.
The goverment are always looking for more innovative models of working where cost is the biggest factor. The Sweet Project looked at a radical idea in 2010 were placement fees could keep a project sustainable without the need for external funding, equally trainees could learn from first hand practical experience by offering vital service delivery to many of the most vulnerable in society.
We have faced many challenges and broken down many barriers to get where we are now. We have many supporters but non more so that our local church in Kings Norton . Every Christmas they collect gifts for SWEET which are passed on to some of the most deprived children and families in South Birmingham. At Easter the local church will donate easter eggs again these are delivered to the service users we work with. If you share our belief and passion help us raise the £50,000 we need.
The Sweet Project offers many vital services including:
- Running a dementia group in a local nursing home,
- Running a group for older adults to reduce social isolation
- Working with asylum seekers
- Home visiting,
- Providing debt and benefit advice
- Food parcels,
- Support to attend hospital appointments
- Crisis interventions
- Parenting advice
- Life story and memory boxes for children and adults
The Sweet Project strongly believe that child protection is everyones responsibility. By donating to this worthwile project you will be supporting vulnerable children to feel safe throughout South Birmingham. Helping The Sweet Project to empower survivors of domestic abuse and supporting our practitioners to bring about sustainable change when working with perpretrators of abuse. The Sweet Project is one of only few organisations across the country who cover all 3 programmes. As we are training future social workers wanting to work in child protection and adult safeguarding we want to ensure the right skills and knowledge are provided to do this specialist work. Our team of Practice Educators are dedicated by providing time, guidance and quality training to all trainees on placement.
Awards won to so far include:
- The Big Society award in 2011,
- Social Enterprise West Midlands award in 2012,
- UNLTD big venture Challange 2012,
- Ernst & Young Enterputure of the year 2012,
- Nat West Community Social Impact award 2015
- Jayne Hulbert was runner up Practice Educator of the Year award 2016.
Articles written include:
- Guardian 2011,
- Community care 2012,
- BASW 2012,
- Birningham Evening Mail 2012 and 2014.
Thank you on behalf of everyone at The Sweet Project for taking the time to read this, if you believe in supporting vulnerable children & adults please donate into this motivated, committed and very worthwhile project.