Students and Refugees Together

Student Research

This poster aims to show what can be achieved when a strengths approach is adopted in practice (Dunn, 2017). For over 20 years students of occupational therapy have undertaken practice placements in an award-winning multidisciplinary charity, Students and Refugees Together (START). Situated in southwest England, START supports refugees by harnessing the work of placement students and
celebrating the collaborative model of fieldwork education (Bartholomai and
Fitzgerald, 2007).

While one of the managers has worked as an occupational therapist, START reflects many qualities of role emergent placements in developing students’ autonomy, self-directed learning, cultural competence and community engagement (Golos and Tekuzener, 2019; Gat and Ratzon, 2014). START was founded on the strengths approach, redolent of occupational therapy’s core values and enshrined in the Care Act 2014 (Dunn et al. 2013). It is a systemic approach that informs all aspects of START’s work, whether by realising the skills and aspirations of refugees as they forge a new life in the UK, or in enabling students to develop confidence in their capabilities and developing professional identity. It encourages co-production with
students learning with, and from the people they work alongside.

This poster critically examines the strengths approach, illustrated by the casework and community activities undertaken by START’s students and their testimonies. It draws on the wealth of research and data START has accrued to provide evidence of the organisation’s impact (Bellinger and Ford, 2022). Above all it invites occupational therapy as a profession to realise the potential of the strengths

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