4 June 2020

Award-winning Sheffield speech therapy students volunteer to support community

Sheffield speech and language therapy students have been recognised for their voluntary work at specialised patient clinics alongside their degree

A speech therapist with a patient
  • Volunteering allows the students to gain valuable experience in supporting and leading clinics for patients over and above their course requirements
  • Their achievements are officially recorded to support their employability

Speech and language therapy students studying at the University of Sheffield have been recognised for championing volunteering as a way to support the local community and achieve academically.

The students have been awarded for volunteering their own time to work in the University’s speech and language therapy clinics, over and above the hours they dedicate to their academic studies and healthcare placements as part of their degree.

The clinics are run by the University and support the work of local NHS speech and language therapy services to help patients with speech, language and communication difficulties that may need extra or longer-term support. The volunteers work in the clinics, promoting them to charitable bodies, working with patient forums and help as ambassadors for prospective students.

Eleanor O’Boyle, a 20-year-old student from Nottingham, is now recognised as a University of Sheffield Super Clinic Champion due to the hours she has volunteered to support patients in Sheffield.

She said: “Volunteering gave me the opportunity to broaden my experience and work with many groups of different people. Supporting clients to build their independence and working with them on their communication goals can really improve a person’s quality of life, and it is so rewarding to watch them progress. We were also able to support and lead patient support groups in some really specilised areas of care, which I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to do.

“We complete clinical placements as part of our degree, but being able to volunteer with the University as well has helped me build good relationships with the healthcare professionals that will be my future colleagues and having this achievement recognised on my Higher Education Achievement Report will hopefully help me stand out to potential employers.”

The Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) is used by UK universities to record extracurricular activities, awards and achievements over and above degree course requirements. It helps graduating students demonstrate their progress and commitment to their chosen profession.

Fellow Super Clinic Champion, Abigail Newsome, also 20 and from Nottingham, said: “Volunteering gave me the opportunity to work alongside University academics and widen my knowledge about my chosen career. I had the chance to experience a wide range of therapy areas, from helping people living with dementia work on their memory and initiate conversations, to working with children in schools to help improve their language abilities.

“The programme gave me a good opportunity to figure out what area of therapy I may want to focus on in the future and helps build your confidence in practice.”

Dr Judy Clegg is the Head of Human Communication Sciences at the University of Sheffield Health Sciences School. She says volunteering is a great way for students to enhance their employability: “Offering placements in our clinics is a core component of our Speech and Language Therapy degree, but for students to be able to demonstrate that they have gone above and beyond that to broaden their experience further gives Sheffield students the opportunity to stand out from the crowd for employers and postgraduate tutors, enhancing their employability.

“We are delighted to recognise the commitment students like Eleanor and Abigail have shown, not only for their learning, but to the people of Sheffield, the community we serve.”

Find out more about the opportunities to study for a BMedSci in Speech and Language Therapy with the University of Sheffield Health Sciences School.

ENDS

Media contact: Rebecca Ferguson, Media Relations Officer, 0114 222 9859, r.l.ferguson@sheffield.ac.uk

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