As third year occupational therapy (OT) students we decided to organise and host an event for National OT week 2014. We felt this would be a great opportunity to promote our profession within the Faculty and amongst the local community. As part of our third year course we are offered the opportunity to take on an ‘emerging role’ placement. This is working with a charity or organisation that does not currently have an OT, but that would potentially benefit from having one. By hosting this event we were able to invite and inspire local charities and organisations where this might be possible.
We started by brainstorming areas where we felt occupational therapy would be of benefit, then used the internet to search for local charities and organisations within these areas. For example children centres, schools, mental health charities, job centres, brain injury charities, GP surgeries, councillors and politicians to name a few. We emailed them all and attached a flyer with all the information about the event. We organised rooms, equipment and other facilities with the support of our tutors, and recruited fellow students to help with the event.
The response was fantastic! Representatives from Southampton City Limits, Job Centre Plus, Headway, SENCO, colleges, university lecturers and even the Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Sue Blatchford, all accepted our invitation.
We hoped that we would raise the profile of our profession and be able to explain what OTs do, which is notoriously tricky!
The day went extremely well and we received some really positive feedback from those who attended. They were impressed with the level of professionalism that we presented and the passion we showed for our profession.
We would definitely encourage future students to take on this challenge as it has really helped open up more opportunities and has given us the platform to explain the benefits of occupational therapy that could be used in a number of different settings.