Second group of graduates begin to Think Ahead

November 02, 2017

Chloe Nash, Caleb Questel, Hannah Kingsford and Nick Aston are training to become fully qualified mental health social workers with the City of Wolverhampton Council through the Think Ahead programme.
Chloe Nash, Caleb Questel, Hannah Kingsford and Nick Aston are training to become fully qualified mental health social workers with the City of Wolverhampton Council through the Think Ahead programme.

A pioneering City of Wolverhampton Council programme which enables talented graduates to train to become fully qualified mental health social workers has welcomed its second group onto the scheme.

Four new graduates have joined the Think Ahead programme after being selected to help improve support for people with mental illness.

Chloe Nash, Caleb Questel, Hannah Kingsford and Nick Aston are three months into an intensive two-year programme mixing real life work experience with academic learning and leadership training.

They follow Joanne Shenton, Becky Shinton, Amy Leason and Jack Buckler who joined the City of Wolverhampton Council through the Think Ahead programme last year.

The innovative programme is run by the council in conjunction with the Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and mental health charity Think Ahead. It provides on-the-job training, enabling the graduates to become fully qualified social workers.

Caleb said: “The application process was very rigorous, but I enjoyed it. I am shadowing the previous students and it has given me an insight on how to conduct myself as a social worker and how to support individuals in making their own life choices.”

Hannah said: “I’m really enjoying working with the City of Wolverhampton Council – it is very well organised and I feel very supported.”

Nick agreed, adding: “The Think Ahead programme gives a supportive insight into the experience of a social worker and lets us know what we can come to expect from the role.”

Chloe said: “What appeals to me most is the values of Think Ahead – it is inclusive and effective. We are able to move forward positively with individuals and wider society to make a tangible difference to mental health issues.”

Councillor Sandra Samuels OBE, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults, said: “The Think Ahead programme is a ground-breaking approach to bringing talented individuals into the social work profession.

“The second cohort have settled in to their roles well, enjoying a varied mix of training and real-life experience to give them the skills they need to take on what is a very challenging role.”

Like their predecessors, Chloe, Caleb, Hannah and Nick took part in a six-week residential course before joining the council in September. They will spend the remainder of their first year learning on-the-job under the guidance of an experienced mental health social worker while also gaining a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work, needed for registration as a qualified social worker.

In their second year they will take on newly qualified social worker roles in their service, and work towards a Master’s in Social Work.

A similar programme is also underway in children’s social care, with the council working with the charity Frontline to offer graduates a way into the profession. The first quartet joined the council in September, and are benefitting from intensive practical and academic training tailored to their needs.

To find out more about the Think Ahead programme, please visit www.thinkahead.org

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