Bianca Winston has a Distinction in MA Social Work. She balanced her studies with a part-time charity role and caring responsibilities, and is now supporting the work of Policy, Ethics and Human Rights Committee for the British Association of Social Workers.
This is a massive achievement for me. While studying for my MA, I worked part-time for a charity under the NHS Health Team for complaints (a job I was able to get through a contact I made on my first practice placement). It was difficult to balance everything – being completely self-funded meant that there was a lot less time for sleep! But having so much to do meant I’ve built so much resilience that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
I moved out of my family home in London when I was 16 and started living independently. I initially worked in administration roles, but there was always something in the back of my mind that was curious about social care and empowering other people that need that extra support.
I decided to study a Psychosocial Studies undergraduate degree and from then I knew that this was my path. I wanted a career that would open doors for me and allow me to be part of a professional association, and so I decided to specialise in Social Work.
Canterbury Christ Church University was the perfect place for me to study – I could easily commute from my home near Bromley, and it allowed me to continue caring for my nan who lives locally to the university. The lecturers were really informative, and in combination with the practical placements, I feel I now have a wide knowledge base with which to start my career.
Studying has meant I’ve learned so much about who I am, about my strengths and weaknesses - it taught me to turn up and take responsibility for myself and my future. Looking back at what I’ve achieved, I now want to transfer my skills and abilities to new projects and opportunities.
My dissertation looked at how cultural competencies impact the professional practice of social work, and I ran a focus group that revealed significant challenges for student social workers around ethnicity and diversity. I’m now working with Christ Church to take my recommendations from this research into practice.
I’m also currently volunteering for the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) with the Policy, Ethics and Human Rights Committee, supporting members to ensure practice is based on the BASW Code of Ethics and is underpinned by a human rights based approach to social work.
I’ve gone from being what most people would consider vulnerable at 16 years old, to being in a position where I can support younger women and help them believe that they are capable of success – this is my drive now and what I want to be serving to other people. Anything is achievable with hard work, the right support around you, and belief in yourself.