Meet Eilidh, a Queen Margret University Forensic Psychology Student, who volunteered at the Vocational Impact Durban project in her university holiday in 2018.
Initially, Eilidh was a bit apprehensive about working with the centre due to the intense nature of the work. However, during her time in South Africa she enjoyed the work so much that she decided to shift her career focus and pursue social work.
We had a chat with Eilidh after she returned from South Africa to hear about her time at the project. She told us why she was initially a bit nervous and how it ultimately differed from her expectations.
“I think it was completely different from what I expected, but in a good way. I was expecting it to be depressing, just because of the nature of the work. But everyone there was so friendly and kind, and everyone worked well together, so it didn’t feel like that at all. I felt like I was actually helping people and I felt really supported.”
It was a nice environment at the volunteer house as well. I think it definitely exceeded expectations there. I’d love to go back for longer.
I went for two weeks originally because of the nature of the work. I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it, but then I found that once I got there and kind of got into things, I really enjoyed it. And then I was a bit sad when the two weeks were up.
She told us what she did during her volunteering in South Africa and what she enjoyed about her work.
I enjoyed the school talks with the local schools raising awareness for drug misuse. I also really enjoyed going to court, which I found really interesting because I’m wanting to work with victims of abuse. I’m doing my dissertation on eyewitness testimony, so I got to see how they use that in court cases over there, which I found really useful and beneficial. The victim’s testimony at the police station was really interesting as well.
In the schools, we would go and do talks about drug misuse, raising awareness of it, raising awareness of the risks that could lead on from drug usage and giving them contact information for a local support group, and the police, and obviously the project as well.
I like working with kids, hence the Vocational Impact Psychology placement. I feel like I worked well with the person working with the project on the drugs side of things. We both had different experiences with drug use, so we worked quite well with each other and were able to give different takes on it. I think the kids really appreciated that as well, a lot of the kids would come up afterwards and ask questions or ask for numbers if they had family members who needed help. I think it worked well.
She also told us about how this ultimately had an impact on her future career.
She also told us about how this ultimately had an impact on her future career. “I was originally wanting to go into forensic psychology, but coming back from South Africa and looking at different Master’s programmes.I’m about to go into the final year of my undergrad in psychology at Queen Margret university, and then it’ll probably be another couple of years of training for social work.
I’m hoping to go into social work instead. I want to work with victims of abuse that way and work with them afterwards for continued support.
In addition to impacting her studies and her work, Eilidh also felt that the experience impacted her personally.“It has made me quite strong. I thought I was going to be in tears all the time with the cases, but it made me realise I’m actually a bit stronger than I thought and I’m actually quite good at dealing with kids and teenagers. I’m actually, quite good at helping get certain messages across to them and making people feel like they can come to myself for support.”
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