Lancaster students go the extra mile to help carers organisation

Khairah (left) and Fizah made a difficult decision to remain in the UK
Khairah (left) and Fizah made a difficult decision to remain in the UK

Two Lancaster University students went the extra mile to help n-compass, a Lancashire carers service, and its clients during lockdown and completed their placements.

Khairah Pg Zainurin and Fizah Brahim, both from Brunei, took some tough decisions back in February as the UK Government flagged up the severity COVID-19 was having across the world.

The two students, both studying for a BA degree in Social Work, were just a quarter of the way into their Lancashire placement with n-compass.

Their own government asked that, as overseas students, they return to their home country for their own safety.

But Khairah and Fizah made the difficult decision to remain in the UK so that they could continue with their final placement experience and support n-compass in such challenging times.

They were grateful for the support they received from Brunei government but chose to stay in the UK to complete their studies.

Director of Social Work at Lancaster University Dr Jadwiga Leigh said: “At the start of lockdown we took the decision to ask our students whether they were safe and what they wanted to do, rather than pull them all from placement, as we knew some of them were working in essential front line services and would want to stay and support key workers.

“For all those who wanted to continue, we created individual pathway plans with their practice educators so that they could carry on and complete their placement.

“Khairah and Fizah wanted to support the people who needed them and they did a great job. We know they will be amazing practitioners when they return to their home country.”

A large proportion of organisational work meant that staff, including Khairah and Fizah, could move quickly from office working to home working and continue to deliver much-needed services for carers.

Their busy jobs entailed maintaining daily contact and conducting assessments for carers so that they could be supported in the community. n-compass is a vital service for carers as it not only ensures their health and well-being is promoted but also links carers to wider support services are offered when the need arises.

And despite the changes the COVID-19 situation created for their placement structure, Khairah and Fizah adapted extremely well to home working.

Access to colleague support on Microsoft Teams and video calling with Bernadette Callaghan, their Practice Educator at n-compass, meant disruption was kept to a minimum.

“The support that these students have been able to provide to carers across Lancashire during this time have been invaluable to the organisation,” said Bernadette.

“The commitment and perseverance both Khairah and Fizah have evidenced in their placement practice at n-compass is not to be underestimated.

“Their engagement with changing work practices along with continuing to provide high quality academic work during this period is admirable.

“I am proud to have been able to provide support and reassurance to them during this challenging time away from their friends and family in Brunei.”

 For Khairah and Fizah, who are due to qualify at the end of May, being far away from home in a pandemic presented its anxieties.

“COVID-19 brought me a change in lifestyle and anxieties,” said Khairah. “However, I feel privileged to be supported by n-compass and Bernadette during this time of uncertainty”.

“With constant, virtual catch-ups, mindfulness sessions and open reflections, their innovative support allowed me to continue supporting carers during this time - making an impact to society. It makes for a truly humbling experience.”

Fizah added: “I am thankful for the support I received from people at n-compass during this time. Whenever I needed to speak to someone, they were always there ready to listen.”


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