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Breaking up is so hard to do

Groups come together and often some pretty excellent relationships can form. However, there is always a time when the worker will have to move on, especially if they are leaving placement. Jason Wood shares a recording of how he began to close down his involvement with a day centre group.


A pre-arranged trip to my University campus for the group of older people with learning disabilities that I have been engaged with most during my placement at the charity. I am due to leave the placement in two weeks and the clients have little knowledge of what I am involved in at University. 


Clients went for one hour to Scraptoft Campus, De Montfort University for a tour.


I have previously made arrangements with the university to attend.

We left the day centre at 10.40am and headed out towards the Campus. I used this opportunity to discuss the University and the course structure with clients.

At the University we:

  • had a coffee in the refectory

  • toured the pond and grass areas of the campus, discussing the relaxing outdoor atmosphere and how it can be conducive to learning

  • toured the library and student notice board areas, discussing the amount of work needed to complete an assignment, talking about roles of tutors and why students need to go on placement


The session seemed to go well, with just over half the clients wishing to go around the campus, while the rest remained in the refectory. This is a common pattern, and often not every client has the energy to engage fully in the programme. When we plan our work, we take account of the staffing arrangements to ensure that people are presented with a choice when they attend activities.

The clients were able to question various aspects of my work and I mentally noted the dynamics. I was also aware of the route that I had planned and was self-critical in registering only my mobility and not others. I discussed this with another member of staff, and I noted that it is important to consider the needs of all of the clients before planning an activity. Notably, one of the clients pointed out that the disabled entrance was at the rear – “out of sight”. Staff members commented that this was often the case – a back door route.


The original purpose of this tour was to encourage clients to develop an understanding of my role on placement, for two reasons. The first being that I was due to leave the placement shortly, and in order for me to close the group work that I had done, I wanted to allow a minimal “mourning” phase (Brown 1992). By showing the future of my “journey” it would hopefully allow clients to understand my short period of work with them. Relating back to the module on Groups and Individuals, I recalled the importance of settling down a group as part of the process.

The second reason was more related to anti-oppressive practice and promotion of the individuals’ rights. I am conscious, as a worker, that Informal Education is a two way learning process. More often than not, I am able to have a good knowledge base of the lives of clients including their social activities, medical details and who cares for them. However, a relationship is based on a mutual trust, and I felt it appropriate that the clients should understand part of my life. This was in line with my belief that people with disabilities have a right to break away from the “social margins” that they are placed in (Thompson 1997:108) and have an opportunity to engage in society. This is also in line with the day centre co-ordinator’s ethos and the purpose of the organisation as a whole.


-         Needs of people with disabilities

-         Group work processes in practice (relating to module theory and learning)

-         Ending group life


-         Evaluation of day trip to be held soon


Brown, A. (1992) Groupwork – 3rd Edition, Asgate

Thompson, N. (1997) Anti-discriminatory Practice, MacMillan, Basingstoke


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