Sheridan is in her second year of a degree in Social Work at the University of Plymouth. Her 70-day placement with CASS+ started in October 2022 and time has flown by at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court. She knows that this work experience is laying vital foundations for her chosen career path:
I have an NVQ in childcare, but social work has always interested me. I wanted to better myself and it’s in my nature to be kind and caring to others. I share the social worker values of compassion and empathy and I have a real passion for caring for others.
CASS+ is the ideal placement because I’m working towards meeting my learning needs. I’m growing in confidence every day.
I love going into court because I’m very interested in people.
Many do not understand how they got to this point in life. They’re petrified because they don’t know what’s going to happen when they go into court and get sentenced.
I learn so much each time I sit in court. Before I started working here, I didn’t realise how complicated situations can become. I remember a defendant facing homelessness and struggling with their mental health. They had been breaking the law for survival and told the court that they wanted to be sectioned just to get somewhere safe to stay. The magistrate worked so hard to do what was best for them. This defendant’s options were very restricted by the system and it had all come to a head at court. The magistrates could see the reasons for the offence and, thankfully, this person is now getting support with their mental health and housing.
Like us, the magistrates look for solutions to the root causes for someone going through the criminal justice system. We’re all doing the best we can to support each individual to find a way forward.
I’m enjoying working with adults more than I expected. I’m open-minded about the future. There’s so much to learn and, although this is extremely hard work, I know it will be worth it in the end.