What motivated you to become a social worker?

I came into social work via social care. I am a trained artist and wanted to support people to build a better quality of life through art. I used to run art and social groups for CST (community support team) I looked at becoming an art therapist, but recognised that if you have no money and no roof over your head, your mental health problems will never improve (no matter how many paintings you do). Social work provides that holistic understanding of people’s mental health problems and that linked to my belief of wanting to ‘do’ something.

Why are you working at HPFT?

The Trust chose me, as I was moved across from social services when HPFT was established.

How has HPFT supported your career development?

Mental health is a challenging environment, but I feel well supported by my managers and my peers.

I started initially as a team secretary. But my line managers encouraged me to do training above and beyond what I needed in that role, as they knew I was genuinely interested in the work. I was then employed as a community support worker in Letchworth, and it was there that I was given the opportunity to train as a social worker. I was then employed into a Band 6 role in recognition of my many years of experience, before progressing through to the safeguarding team. I’m now a consultant social worker.

At each stage of my career, I’ve had supportive supervisors and line managers who were interested in my personal development. I have been able to complete my AMHP training and other development opportunities, such as the Practice Educator Course. I find that having a strong PDP (professional development programme), which is produced collaboratively, is a good way to keep momentum going.

What about your future plans?

I am in a relatively new role, which has new challenges. For me it’s all about consolidating safeguarding practice across the Trust, making sure systems are in place to support our staff in their work alongside some of the most vulnerable in our society.