What we’re looking for – What experience do I need to apply?
Our selection process looks for evidence of the behaviours we associate with our competencies. Provided you can demonstrate this evidence, you do not necessarily need to have voluntary or work experience in a mission-aligned organisation.
However, while not a prerequisite of the programme, such experience can be of real benefit to your application. The information below details employment and voluntary opportunities with direct relevance to Frontline. It is by no means exhaustive, so we also recommend you research voluntary groups and charities in your local area.
What experience will help me?
EXPERIENCE WITH CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
During the Frontline programme you will be placed in a team doing child protection work, so it is important that you can demonstrate a commitment to working with young people.
- Volunteering Matters runs a child protection mentoring programme.
- Many university societies take children in care on residential trips, which you can get involved with if you are a student.
In your community:
- IntoUniversity provides local learning centres where young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are supported to attain a university place or another chosen aspiration. They run a two-year scheme that opens for application twice a year.
- NSPCC, Action for Children, Barnardos and The Prince’s Trust all offer opportunities to volunteer supporting vulnerable young people.
- Volunteering Matters run mentoring and befriending programmes with young people, young offenders and in schools.
- You can spend a full year volunteering in a school with City Year.
- If you are looking for summer work, you could apply to The Challenge to lead and mentor young people on their summer residential.
- Project Trust has been organising long-term overseas volunteering placements for school-leavers since 1967. The charity offers a diverse range of experiences in social care settings across the globe.
- The International Citizen Service is an overseas volunteering programme for 18-25 year olds operating in over 20 countries.
- You can sign up with Chance UK, Reach Out or Volunteering Matters to become a mentor for young people.
- Some local authorities offer paid opportunities to work as a social work assistant.
EXPERIENCE WITH FAMILIES
As a child protection social worker, you will be working closely not just with young people but also with their families. There are many opportunities to volunteer or work with families:
- You can mentor or befriend a family through Home-Start UK.
- You can volunteer as an independent visitor through Family Action.
- Volunteering Matters provide a parent mentoring programme to support families.
- Local authorities offer paid opportunities to become a family support worker.
- If you have friends or family members who are social workers, you may be able to arrange a shadowing opportunity.
MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE/ LEADERSHIP
Once qualified as a social worker you will be in a position of responsibility, taking a lead role on delicate cases. We recommend gaining exposure to team management or leadership to enable you to become familiar with using your judgement and initiative to make decisions and take action.
- You could apply for a management trainee position where you will be leading a team or overseeing a specific project of work.
- Year Here offers a one-year graduate programme where you work to solve social problems through innovation.
- Equally, you could highlight experience during university or in your professional career where you have taken a leadership role in a formal or informal capacity, be it through line management, empowering others or providing direction when working as part of a team.
EXPERIENCE WITH VULNERABLE GROUPS
When working as a social worker you may encounter marginalised groups of people. To help you prepare for this we recommend that you seek voluntary or work experience with vulnerable groups.
- You could contact your local refugee centre, homeless shelter or Crisis, to enquire about opportunities.
- If you are a student, there may be a university society that supports members of the local community. Examples include Mind, which works with people who have mental health issues, or the charity STAR, which supports welcoming refugees to the UK.
- Volunteering Matters run a full time volunteering programme and place hundreds of volunteers every year in social care settings supporting vulnerable people. Volunteers receive free accommodation and subsistence to cover their food and expenses and volunteer across the UK for 6-12 months.
At Frontline we look for certain competencies and transferable skills. There are many roles and voluntary opportunities where you will have the chance to develop these skills. As an example, you could develop your communication, counselling and active listening skills by volunteering for Nightline, Childline or Samaritans. Make sure you read over our competencies section to determine which skills you want to improve. This may help you decide what further experience you want to seek out.