London SE1 community website

Cathedral School pupils learn about occupational therapy

London SE1 website team

Occupational therapists in SE1 have been promoting their profession in local schools and colleges as part of a national awareness week.

Occupational Therapists
Lee Roach (from the College of Occupational Therapists) shows pupils from the Cathedral School of St Saviour and St Mary Overie a bottle opener which would be used by someone with reduced hand dexterity.

Occupational therapists help people who are ill, disabled or feeling the effects of ageing to do the things that are important to them – such as preparing a meal, working, or undertaking a favourite hobby. There are over 26,000 qualified occupational therapists in the UK, working in hospitals, social care, schools, business and various other settings.

Occupational therapists from Southwark Social Services spoke to pupils at Cathedral School in Redcross Way and ran an information stand for local residents at Southwark's One Stop Shop in Bermondsey.

Judith Bissat, occupational therapist with Southwark Social Services, explained why it is important to raise awareness of the profession: "Occupational therapy is a fantastic profession helping people to lead more independent and rewarding lives. There are great job opportunities for occupational therapists working in hospitals, social care, schools, charities, and in the independent and commercial sectors. Unfortunately, the profession does not enjoy the high profile it deserves, so it's important for us to do as much as we can to promote it. It was great to talk to local residents, about what we do."

"It was great that occupational therapists from Southwark Social Services came in to talk to pupils from our school," added Ben Hawkins, class teacher at Cathedral School. "They organised practical demonstrations for the students – including putting a sock on with a stocking aid – to illustrate the difficulties faced by people needing occupational therapy. This really gave the students an insight into the sort of work which occupational therapists do."

Occupational therapists Jenny Moye, Teresa Meldrum, Siobhain Kelly and Caitrina McGuinn from Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals talked to students at Westminster Kingsway College.

"There are some 50 occupational therapists at the hospital, who make a huge difference to people's lives," explained Caitrina McGuinn. "Unfortunately, the profession is not in the public eye, so it's important to try and raise its profile. Very few of the students we spoke today knew about occupation therapy beforehand, so it was great to talk to them about what we do."

Coleen Donaghy, 18, who is doing a GNVQ in Health and Social Care at Westminster Kingsway College – said: "Before today, my classmates and I didn't know anything about occupational therapy. It sounds a really interesting and varied career, and I would definitely consider doing it in the future."

The week is organised by the professional body for occupational therapy staff in the UK, the College of Occupational Therapists. Occupational therapy courses are available at 34 universities in the UK.

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