MA Social Work at UEA - Mercy Addai
Mercy Addai studied for an MA Social Work at UEA. Here we learn more about the career opportunities after the course.
Tell us about your time at UEA
I joined UEA in September 2013 as a mature student to study MA Social Work, having completed my first degree in 2004.
Prior to enrolling on the course, I had worked as a teaching assistant. I also worked in the private sector for six years as a support worker for young adults with learning disabilities and as a relief support worker in a Children’s Residential Unit.
The MA programme provided me with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of social work theories and laws and its application into practice.
I had two practice placements: one in a Family Centre which was a social enterprise and the other in a statutory mental health setting. I acquired transferrable skills which were of great benefit in both settings.
What was your first role after graduating?
I completed my MA course in July 2015 having already secured a job in June 2015 with Suffolk County Council’s Children and Young People’s Service (CYPS).
In September 2015, I started my role as a Newly Qualified Social Worker in CYPS in the Family Assessment and Support Team (FAST).
My team’s duty was to undertake a 12-week intensive solution focussed intervention with families. We provided therapeutic support for families whose children were at the edge of care and needing such support to make the necessary changes at home to enable the children to remain cared for by their families.
I undertook this role in a nurturing and supportive learning environment which actively encouraged the continuous development of my professional judgement and skills.
After 13 months of working in CYPS, I secured a job with Norfolk County Council Adult Services where I worked as a Mental Health Social Worker. The generic nature of the MA Social Work Programme at UEA equipped me with the knowledge and skills that has enabled me to work across both children and adult’s services.
My two practice placements played a major role in my career pathway. I developed diverse skills from both my placements which increased my practice confidence.
In February 2019, I moved from Adult Mental Health to Norfolk Children’s Services-Fostering Service where I worked until April 2022. Having worked in Children’s services in the past, fostering was an area in Children Services that I had not had any experience, so I decide to make the move from adult’s services when a vacancy became available.
It was a very interesting journey learning another specialist area of children’s social work, and it was worthwhile. I enjoyed every bit of the work I did, and I woke up every day feeling very valued for the work I was doing for Norfolk foster carers and children in their care.
What are you doing now?
I am currently working with Norfolk County Council’s learning and development team as a Learning and Development (L&D) Consultant for children’s services.
I am one of a team of earning and development consultants responsible for the development and/or delivery of training courses for children’s services workforce, as well the commissioning of some courses to external providers. This is an entirely different avenue of using my social work knowledge and skills, and I have embraced the challenge. It is a very interesting role and I love every bit of it.
How did UEA support you in your career choices?
Just before graduating, when I started to think about applying for jobs, I used CareerCentral to help me bring out my personality and skills in my job application personal statements.
I didn’t feel confident in myself, but this was mainly due to English not being my first language rather than anything else.
What skills did you learn during your course which helped?
Being able to write assessments and reports that reflect a person or a family’s circumstances is of great importance.
During the course, emphasis was placed on being able to capture a person/family’s circumstances in a concise but detailed manner. In the various reports and assessment that I have written in my career as a social worker, this has always been at the forefront and it’s a skill that is valuable in all areas of social worker.
I also learned the importance of being non-judgemental. This skill cuts across all areas of social work be it in adult or children’s services. The two practice placements that were undertaken during the MA course exposed me to apply this skill and horn on it as often as I carried out any social work tasks. By the time I qualified as a social worker, I was ready to go.
What advice would you give prospective students looking to study MA Social Work?
As the MA offers a generic pathway to social work, it creates opportunities in diverse social work practice areas.
With the intense structure of the programme, it aids the quick application of theory into practice in a seamless short period as there are no gaps in the programme for one to forget the theory by the time they are on placement.
If you are someone who aims to learn and explore the many different aspects of social work practice within a shorter and manageable period of time (2 years), the MA Social Work programme is a good one to choose.