“It’s awesome,” says Sasha, a Mount Royal University practicum student
“Being able to do it and to interact with clients, being able to help them and see those outcomes – I can’t even explain how fantastic it is,” says Sasha, a social work student who is based at The Mustard Seed’s Central Services in downtown Calgary.
She is working with The Mustard Seed’s advocates, who perform intake interviews with every new guest. The advocates determine the needs of each guest and how they can access all the services they require.
For instance, Sasha was instrumental in getting a gentleman new ID. People who experience homelessness obviously don’t have a permanent address, therefore getting new ID is extremely difficult, but not impossible once the advocates get involved.
“We see someone who doesn’t have an ID and we work on this for a month, and they get their ID and they’re happy. It’s awesome,” Sasha says.
Every spring, The Mustard Seed welcomes practicum students from Mount Royal University (MRU). The partnership between The Mustard Seed and the university has been in place for over 15 years.
Many of the students are from MRU’s Department of Child Studies and Social Work, where the focus of the diploma program is to help students integrate theory and practice.
Alana Davison, another social work student, says “It means nothing if you don’t actually experience it”. Davison is one of two students placed at The Mustard Seed’s shelter, which provides a place for men and women experiencing homelessness.
The social work students spend 350 hours at The Mustard Seed learning through practice and experience.
Students mentored by staff and faculty
Because the MRU students spend several months at The Mustard Seed they are able to develop relationships with the guests and their Mustard Seed supervisors. In addition, students receive ongoing guidance from faculty members at the university and The Mustard Seed’s community engagement team.
Brittany Vine, The Mustard Seed’s Community Engagement Coordinator says, “The students aren’t just completing a list of duties and tasks, but they’re building relationships with guests, and deepening their understanding of the stories behind the social issues they’re studying every day in class. We look forward to bringing these students on board each year.”
Practicum placements are available for most degree programs and areas of study.