Age: 51 years old
Social class: Jean would describe herself as working-class. Her father was a joiner and she grew up in a Scottish mining village with a strong socialist tradition.
Educational background: Jean left school with no qualifications. She did an Access course when she was in her 30s and subsequently did the Diploma in Social Work at a local Further Education college. Since then, she has done mental health officer training.
Family status: Divorced mother of two grown up children; soon to become a grandmother for the first time.
Professional background: Jean is a senior social worker in a voluntary sector mental health project which is located in a council housing estate on the edge of a large city.
Interests: Jean enjoys spending time in her garden and going hill-walking with friends.
Age: 24 years old
Social class: Nazra's background is solidly middle-class. Her father is a doctor and her mother works as a teacher. She grew up in the Midlands of England with four brothers and sisters, all of whom went on to study law or medicine.
Educational background: Nazra did well at school, achieving good grades in her A-levels. She subsequently did a degree in Psychology at university, thinking that she might become a Child Psychologist. She did not enjoy the course, however, and found it too statistical. She finished with a 3rd class Honours degree.
Family status: Nazra is single. She currently lives in a flat with her cousin, and expects her parents to arrange a marriage for her within the next 10 years.
Professional background: This is Nazra's first practice learning opportunity. Before coming on the social work degree programme, she worked as a volunteer for an agency that supports children with learning difficulties and their families. She applied for a Social Work course in Scotland because she is very close emotionally to her cousin who lives in the West of Scotland. Her family supported this move.
Interests: Nazra is a keen swimmer and she enjoys going to the cinema with her cousin.
Age: 37 years old
Social class: Paul grew up in a middle-class suburb of a large Scottish city; his father worked in a bank and his mother worked in an office.
Educational background: Paul went to Art College when he left school, but was forced to leave in his second year when his mental health problems got out of hand. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent 5 years as a psychiatric in-patient.
Family status: Paul was sexually abused by his father from the age of 11 years. Following his father's death, Paul's mother went to live near Paul in a town outside the city. His mother is in poor health. Four years ago, Paul separated from his wife, Liz, and son Barry (now aged 10 years). Liz had had a relationship with Paul's best friend Neil, and since then, she has been living with Neil and Barry in what was their family home. Paul has not seen any of his family since the break-up.
Professional background: Paul worked for 8 years in an art shop after leaving hospital, first in a voluntary capacity and later as a paid staff member. He also painted water colours at this time, and had some success in selling his paintings. When his marriage broke down 4 years ago, he left the area, living on the streets for a time, before being readmitted to psychiatric hospital. He has recently moved out of hospital to his own tenancy.
Interests: Paul has recently taken up painting again.