Third-year Law student Sam Gibbs has been accepted onto the Frontline Leadership Development Programme, an intensive two-year programme that gives graduates the necessary training and opportunities to develop the skills needed to be a social worker. Sam is the first to admit that social work was definitely not on the list of careers he was considering when he first came to university, but his time as one of the JCR's Welfare Representatives drew him in this unexpected direction. He explains:
"One of the many benefits of having been JCR Male Welfare Representative in such an inclusive and diverse environment has been the opportunity to work with a wide range of individuals and to recognise the difficulties that many young people face day-to-day. Through my role and the high-quality training I received from Merton I began to explore more welfare-aligned jobs. I’ve always wanted a career that makes a real and positive impact on the lives of those with whom I’m working and social work provides more than this – it’s about empowering young people and their families to make meaningful changes to their lives.
"I’m very excited to start on the Frontline Programme and hope to be able to make a positive impact not only on the lives of vulnerable children but also, further down the line, on the profession itself which is surrounded with an unjustified stigma.
"I’m very grateful to my tutors for supporting me in exploring such a ‘non-traditional’ career choice for a law graduate, and also to Merton, not only for providing very generous financial support through its Compassionate Fund but also for fostering such an inclusive and supportive environment without which it is unlikely I would be following the career path I am today."
Participants on the Frontline Programme undertake five weeks’ residential training before starting work in September as student social workers studying for a fully-funded Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work. In the second year, as fully qualified social workers, they study for a fully-funded Masters in Advanced Relationship-Based Social Work with Children and Families to enable a deeper understanding of the practice models required for effective social work. Frontline, through its Leadership Development Programme, has now trained over 1,000 graduates as social workers, helping them to provide proactive support to transform the lives of vulnerable children and their families.