My experience with Out in the Bay
Out in the Bay (OITB) is an organisation that supports members of the LGBT community, supports with drug and alcohol misuse and those living with long term sexual health conditions. The support is offered in a range of ways such as one to one support, drop in sessions, social groups and awareness training. As OITB is all inclusive organisation that doesn’t excludes anyone who may need help and support tailoring this to the person seeking help. OITB offers volunteering opportunities which includes an in depth training programme which students start their placement with.
It is hard to really pin point what you, as a student will be doing at OITB as every day is different. The first week as a student you will be looking at the organisations policies and procedures, completing e-training and reading the service users files. I found this to be interesting as it gave an insight onto the work that you will be doing, gave background information on the people you will be supporting and helped you to understand the OITB way of doing things. The idea behind asking a student to read a large folder of policies is to high light that there is some reasons why OITB do things the way they do and to inform you and is professional. I however, did find this to be tedious and I would rather have spent the first morning meeting the team and shadowing other workers and breaking down the policy reading into smaller chunks. The e-training is a great chance to refresh your mind on important topics while working in this sector. I enjoyed the e-training and felt quite proud to have the number of development certificates so early on in my placement.
After you have settled in completed the training you will start to meet the service users. I have learnt a lot from the people that I have worked with. They are a diverse mix of people. I key day was when I spent the morning working with a young person who is going through transition and then spent the afternoon talking to an adult about their identity. You will gain a high understanding of risk and how to manage possible risks safely for the person or for yourself. I had to learn quickly about de-escalation, reasons behind addiction, issues that the LGBT community may face and why they need specialist support from OITB.
At OITB you are given a lot of opportunities to meet other organisations which offer other support to people within the local area. I have recently attended a forum for ‘users’ where professionals are not normally allowed into. This gave me some great insight into what my potential service users may need from me in the future. This also allowed me to challenge my own values and perceptions about this service user group. I feel that you need to be ready for being challenged.
Although, OITB does some serious work, I feel that it is important to mention that you can laugh here and not a day goes by without us laughing about something which is a welcome break from the seriousness of the work we do. There is an open atmosphere in the office where I have felt that you can ask about anything, where no question is ever seen as a stupid one and any issues, personal or professional, can be talked about. I have felt so supported at OITB by the whole team.
I have enjoyed my time at OITB although I haven’t been here that long. I now leave with a lot more knowledge than I started with and I know that I can ring whenever I need specialist support in the future.
Thank you everyone at OITB (including the amazing PEs)