Involving service users and carers in social work education can bring to life the teaching for students. It can give them a real sense of the role they can have in people’s lives once they are qualified. For many students, this will be their first interaction with service users and carers.

Meeting service users during training can help students to see that they have common ground with service users. It can help them to see that service users have skills and strengths and that they can move beyond their status as users of services. It can change students’ attitudes, helping them to lose any previously-held steretypes or prejudices.

‘This was one of the most interesting and informative sessions so far. It was useful to be able to ask questions and develop some understanding of how to phrase questions to service users. It gave a good overview of a possible real situation we may face as social workers.’

I thought it was very useful to have carers’ insights and I felt by hearing about their experiences it made the things I had been reading and learning more real.’

It is clear from our course reviews that students really value the learning they acquire from teaching sessions that include service users and carers.

Every time we do something with students, the feedback is always positive. They say that getting the information ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’ as it were, gives them a better insight into the needs of users.