Lisa Ewing is an Occupational Therapist student at Northumbria University. She recently undertook a nine-week work placement at VODA and here, blogs about her experiences:
“As an Occupational Therapy student with experience only in clinical settings, I was apprehensive about taking on the challenge of a role-emerging placement within the charity sector. Occupational Therapy is the practice of enabling and empowering people to overcome barriers they may face to help them engage in occupations (activities) they wish to do. Whilst volunteering is an important occupation to those who undertake such roles, providing personal benefits such as a sense of community and belonging, it is also important to acknowledge that by being a volunteer you have the opportunity to facilitate others to engage in their own occupations which builds community cohesion and is key to well-being within the local area.
From my first day at VODA, it was apparent that the philosophy of the organisation complemented the values of occupational therapy, which stood me in good stead. However, what I didn’t expect was the scope of VODA and how far-reaching the service was. Previous experience centred on working with individuals, so the concept of working on a community scale was challenging and required me to re-appraise my thinking on a larger scale and regularly reflect my practice.
In my nine weeks at VODA, I have had the opportunity to work 1:1 with volunteers, community groups, businesses, local authorities and charities, as well as collaborate with members of VODA on projects. I have gained insight into the factors that impact volunteering; health, routines, roles; values and beliefs and how this sits within the wider complexities of funding, legislation and local policy.
I have had a unique experience at VODA and it has taken me on an unexpected pathway of learning. Originally, I thought my placement would centre on honing my practical skills, which I have tried to develop over my three years at university, and whilst I have done this, I have developed personal skills such as thinking on my feet, resilience, self-belief and consequently, I have a greater awareness of the power of using your time to help others.”
Find out more about Work Placements with VODA.