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University life as a mature student

Posted by. Gaynor Lester
Posted on 29 August 2018

blogs, blogs:Alumni, blogs:Community

​​Forensic Psychology alumna Gaynor Lester graduated from Leeds Trinity in 2014. In this blog, she writes about attending University as a mature student, and how her time at Leeds Trinity helped her land her dream job.

My priority when looking at different universities was not only the distance from home due to having three children but a university that offered interesting modules and a welcoming approach. As a mature student, I was very apprehensive about going to university so I wanted somewhere that offered smaller class sizes and friendly staff members.

I attended numerous open days at different universities in Yorkshire but found that Leeds Trinity had the most welcoming feel to it and the staff seemed very approachable. It also offered the modules in Forensic Psychology which others did not. 

​I was still undecided whether I wanted to do a degree in single honours Psychology or a degree in Forensic Psychology. After attending the open day at Leeds Trinity and exploring what they offered I was certain that Leeds Trinity was for me.

My three years at Leeds Trinity were amazing from start to finish, and I honestly believe that I would not have gained employment straight after graduating without the experience that I gained during my placements.

​The course was interesting, challenging, motivating and had the most supportive tutors. Speaking to other students from universities really made me realise how lucky we were. They reported that staff did not know their name and that the class sizes were vast. Our classes felt intimate and we were offered a lot of one to one time to discuss our work to enable us to progress. The tutors offered advice on how I could improve my work to reach my full potential, they helped me to build my confidence which in turn allowed me to believe in myself and my academic work. 

​They were always on hand to support the students even on weekends and evenings when they would respond to emails.

The placements on the course were an unbelievable experience which offered an opportunity to open many doors. I spent six weeks in my first year at Doncaster Drug and Alcohol Service. 

During this time, I not only increased my knowledge on substance misuses but I also made some very influential contacts. I gained employment there after completing my degree in June 2014 as a support worker.

After 14 months I was promoted to a recovery worker. In 2016, I gained a step-up contract to cover maternity for 18 months as a band five case manager. This involved offering harm minimisation to clients, completing risk assessments, care plans and working in a multidisciplinary manner with other agencies such as probation, housing, GP's and mental health service. I attended case conferences and core groups for social services and supervised other staff members. As well as the day to day role, I also offered auricular acupuncture to clients and facilitated a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy-based group called Mood Masters.

My second placement at Leeds Trinity was working with youth offenders. It was a charity called In2change that enabled teenagers who were not attending school to find employment and encouraged training and education to improve their chances of leading a better life. The placements offered by Leeds Trinity empower individuals to network with other professionals, expand their skill set and gain knowledge in relevant areas.

I have recently been offered employment at Nacro, a​ national social justice charity,​ as a reducing reoffending worker. This will involve assessing offenders in prison and the community and helping them to reduce their drug use, find housing, employment and offer support with benefits and training to reduce the chances of them reoffending. 

The skills that I gained during both of my placements and my current role definitely increased my knowledge and expanded my transferable skills which enabled me to gain employment in this area.

If I were to return to University, or if I had to make the decision again regarding my degree, I would definitely choose Leeds Trinity University. 

Overall, the best aspect of Leeds Trinity is the amazing support from the tutors. They helped me to believe that I can achieve whatever I wish and I would not have the self-belief that I have today or the confidence that I gained, without them. The personal touch and the individual support that I received as a student was paramount to my success and achievements both on a personal and professional level.