Learning Disability Support Worker

SLVeteran Shauna

Education: Psychology - University of Dundee, UK, MSc Global Mental Health - University of Glasgow, UK

SLV.Global Placement: Mental Health Placement June 2014

Current Role: Learning Disability Self-Advocacy Assistant

Tell us about your role: 'I currently volunteer for the charity Advocating Together Dundee as a Self-Advocacy Assistant in an autistic spectrum disorder group supporting adults with Autism and Learning Difficulties in Dundee. My main responsibilities are promoting self-advocates to learn to speak for themselves allowing them to control their own affairs rather than taking responsibility for them enabling them, to gain knowledge learning from their experiences allowing them to lead a more independent life where they can effectively manage risks themselves to live healthy lifestyles and keep safe. Also facilitating group activities in a safe and fun environment whilst developing their communication skills through various activities such as using talking mats, happy sad face cards, smart board technology which are designed to engage self-advocates openness, confidence and ability to voice their own views. I completely could not have got this role as a Learning Disability Support worker without the work I did with SLV as the 10 week placement I went on to Sri Lanka taught me so many skills that are essential to enhancing people with varying difficulties and disabilities lives. I have just graduated and now looking for part time work alongside studying a Masters in Global Mental Health at the University of Glasgow in September and I know my experience with SLV really will help boost finding paid employment.'

Tell us about your SLV.Global experience: 'The vast range of experience I received through SLV has completely enhanced my CV and complemented the other experiences I had previous to my placement. I am so thankful to SLV as I believe that without doing this placement I would not have stood a chance when applying to do competitive postgraduate study! I applied to four Universities to do a Masters and all of the Universities offered me a place on their programme and I honestly believe that is down to the incredible opportunities and skills I was able to achieve in my placement with SLV.'

'SLV was certainly a powerful life experience and something I will never forget! The people of Sri Lanka were so welcoming to myself and the other volunteers and it was a positive breath of fresh air to not only work, but live with a host family in Sri Lanka for 10 weeks. Even though at times work was challenging due to language barriers, disagreement with the systems that are in place and working with people that vary so much in their levels of ability and disability it inspired to me work hard and follow my dreams to one day help reduce inequalities seen globally in mental health treatment. '

'After my 10 week placement in Sri Lanka I was really interested in the vast differences in health care that other countries have access to and the differences in the treatment they receive compared to back home and I wanted to not only know more but give more and hopefully one day come up with interventions strategies to help tackle the inequalities seen globally. My placement opened my eyes to the many different ways in which we can help tackle these inequalities and having a positive attitude, that is seen in Sri Lanka due to their Buddhist way of life, really taught me that with a positive attitude and patience you really can achieve great things.'