Speaker Week proves ‘inspirational’ for students

Students, business professionals, academics and alumni from University Centre at Blackburn College have teamed up to organise a week of events and activities for students studying Health, Counselling and Psychology at the University Centre at Blackburn College.

The Speaker Week, which ran from Monday 14th November until Friday 18th November, consisted of a range of sessions delivered by businesses including: Community Integrated Care and Each Step; Capita; a non-executive Director at the Institute of Directors; the Chair of Marketing Lancashire, Professor Stephen Chase from Loughborough University and many more.

Current students were also given the opportunity to meet with former graduates of BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology (Counselling and Health) who are now working in diverse areas.

Nancy Kinyanjui, who graduated in 2014, is volunteer co-chair to the Mental Health and Wellbeing task group at Blackburn with Darwen Healthwatch. Nancy said:

“I feel very privileged to come back and deliver a talk on my volunteering with Healthwatch and how I’ve progressed since being a student at University Centre at Blackburn College.

“Healthwatch is a great platform for the community to voice their opinions on health and social care. To come back and deliver a talk to the College that provided my education is a real privilege.”

Students were also joined by former students Raheela Ullah, Paul Deacon and Emma Jenkinson – all of whom are graduates from BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology (Counselling & Health).

Following the completion of the degree, Raheela went on to study an MSc in Psychology and then a Postgraduate Certificate in Mental Health Practice. Raheela is currently a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner at Blackpool Teaching Hospital. She said:

“University Centre at Blackburn College gave me a goal-orientated outlook in life that enabled me to go on to complete an MSc in Psychology at Liverpool Hope University.

“I was very excited to be invited to give a talk with my former tutors and share my successes.”

Following a career in the Armed Forces, Paul Deacon had a 20 year career in Her Majesty’s Prison Service. His career focused on training offenders and staff – including offenders with personality disorders and Sex Offender Treatment programmes.

Following the degree, Paul began a new role with the ‘Lifeways’ group as a Recovery Coach. Paul said:

“It’s always a positive experience coming back to the University Centre at Blackburn College. I’m currently a Recovery Coach for Lifeways SIL – an organisation that helps support those with mental health problems transition from an institutional environment to their own tenancy in the community.”

Paul added: “It’s great to give something back to the students.”

Emma Jenkinson, Senior Research Support Officer at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, also conducted a session. Emma commented:

“It’s a very strange but positive feeling to be back. As a student who often doubted whether they’d even pass their course, it’s a good feeling to be back at Blackburn College to do a talk.

“I currently work as a Senior Research Support Officer for the NHS in cancer research and hope students are inspired by my journey.”

The speaker week also included a presentation of academic posters by current undergraduate Psychology students, enabling current students to showcase the independent research that they have been undertaking.

Dr Val Todd, Academic Subject Leader for the area of Health, Counselling and Psychology, and the Speaker Week organiser, said:

“Our first Speaker Week has been a fantastic success. We have been delighted to be joined by a range of great speakers from various organisations allied to Health, Counselling and Psychology, including our members of our Alumni.

“The event has proved to be inspirational for current students who have been able to see the variety of careers that our graduates move into, along with opportunities to engage with a range of organisations that exert a positive influence across society.”

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