The MA in Childhood and Youth Studies at Sussex sits in the Department of Social Work and Social Care, and draws on key social work concerns such as the promotion of social change and social justice and creative ways of working with children and young people. In celebration of World Social Work Day (March 18) we are running a week long blog series about Social Work at Sussex and beyond which you can catch up on here. In the meantime, and in a continuation of our MACYS blog series we hear below from alumna Camilla Jones who joined the programme in its first year as a full-time student with an undergraduate degree in English Literature and five years experience working with children and child protection systems in the humanitarian sector. Below Camilla reflects on what brought her to the MACYS programme and Sussex, as well as where she finds herself now professionally.
Soon after my undergraduate degree I started work in Save the Children’s humanitarian team in London, being deployed to Kenya and Bangladesh during emergencies. I then specialised in child protection, working in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, and finally as Child Protection Advisor in Kenya. After an amazing, and at times exhausting, 5 years of work MACYS was a chance to reflect on all that I had learnt and experienced, and a chance to explore my interests further.
I was drawn to MACYS for its multi-disciplinary nature: it combines social work, law, education, psychology and anthropology to look at childhood holistically. It is one of the only masters focusing on childhood that is embedded within a Department of Social Work. This diversity of interest and clear link to social work provided me the chance to reflect on my experiences while learning about social work systems in developed countries.
On a course as diverse as MACYS I was able to engage in a plethora of fascinating discourses over the year. In choosing a research topic for my dissertation I knew I wanted to reflect on my own experience and I knew I wanted to look at child protection systems.
In the humanitarian sector, there is increasing recognition that countries and communities with strong child protection systems are better prepared for, and better able to respond to, child protection needs during humanitarian crises. With the encouragement of my tutors, I decided to write a ‘reflective practitioner case study’; reflecting on my own work with Somali refugees in Kenya and combining this with desk review and empirical research with Somalis living in east London. Through this I captured a case study of ‘the interactions between cultural mechanisms for child protection and formal child protection systems’ with the Somali culture.
While writing my dissertation I contributed to a self-learning training on child protection in emergencies for the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. After completing MACYS, I spent six months in the Middle East. I first worked with Save the Children in Libya, training staff and government social workers on case management. Then I worked with UNICEF in Jordan, developing procedures for working with unaccompanied and separated Syrian refugee children including establishing alternative care systems.
I have recently finished working for the Case Management Task Force of the Child Protection Working Group, which is led by the International Rescue Committee. I designed a training manual to operationalise Minimum Standard 15: Case Management of the new Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action. This involved conducting a Scoping Study in Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia and facilitating trainings in the Middle East and Uganda for a global group of trainers, including government.
In 2014, I returned to Sussex as a guest lecturer on the ‘Childhood in a Global Context: Rights, Protection and Justice’ module. It was a delight to come full circle from student to lecturer and to discuss upcoming dissertation research areas with the current group of students. I’m now drafting academic articles based on my dissertation research along with other child protection in emergencies specialists and my dissertation tutor, Rachel Burr.
And you can read an archived live chat with Rachel Burr about MACYS here.