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image of Diana Spring sat in front of a green Devon County Council background on teams

Diana Spring

Job title: Social Worker

Area of work: South and West Mental Health Team (Devon Partnership NHS Trust)

My name is Diana spring and I’m a Social Worker with Devon County Council. I’m assigned to the Devon Partnership Trust in the South and West Devon, Mental Health Team.

When did you start at Devon County Council?

I started with Devon County Council on the 6th of February this year (2023).

What made you choose to work for Devon County Council?

I chose Devon County Council because I didn’t want to relocate and I’d spent three months shadowing the Mental Health Team here. It had been my ambition to work in a Mental Health Team. It was a great experience, the team was supportive, there was great emphasis on self-care and the work was both interesting and challenging.

Can you give an overview of your role?

Although I’m employed by Devon County Council, I’m assigned to the Devon Partnership NHS Trust. I work with a variety of Mental Health Professionals in the South and West Devon locality. All new referrals come through the Community Health Team, so working together is important. As a social worker I aim to empower people through access to services and advice to meet their identified eligible needs. It’s a mixture of making sure that I act within the law and being creative to support people to develop solutions that meet their needs, as well as helping them to identify what is important to them and how they want their lives to look. Working co-productive and innovatively with local communities to support community capacity, personal and carer resilience and earlier intervention. I also help to promote recovery and social inclusion with individuals and families. I also work intervening and leading where there are complex social family and interpersonal relationships and where there’s risk and ambiguity.

How did you come to be in this role?

During the COVID lockdowns, I received a letter saying that I would be put back onto the Temporary Social Work Register. However, at that time I was working in Supported Housing and my workloads increased quite dramatically, so I was not able to take up the offer and I didn’t have any additional time to return to Social Work. It made me think about Social Work and to consider whether I would like to return, friends had also encouraged me to go back prior to the pandemic. The pandemic took its toll on the organisation I was working with and it folded. I took my chance to begin the journey back into Social Work then. I searched for Return to Practice programmes and could not find any current ones, until I saw the offer from Devon County Council. So, I applied and had a couple of meetings which left me feeling optimistic and excited. They arranged for me to shadow the team of my choice, which was close to my home so I didn’t have a very long commute. The process took a bit of time because references were followed up as well as DBS checks undertaken. Then I began shadowing a Social Worker, she was very supportive and arranged some exciting opportunities for shadowing and for useful conversations, despite lots of professionals still working from home. She often asked what my learning needs were so that these could be catered for, and she even gave me a lift into the office so that I didn’t have to drive so far, it was a really great experience. After I finished my shadowing I received really good support from my Practice Educator in how to set out and reference my portfolio. It helped me to decide that I really wanted to work in the Mental Health Team. A position arose in the team, that I had shadowed, as the previous Social Worker went on to train as an AMHP. I applied for the post when it was advertised as an ASYE post, and was offered the job. Devon County Council were very patient because I had not yet received confirmation that I had returned to the Social Work Register.

What support did you receive when you joined the ASYE programme?

I’ve had support from the whole team. I have a very supportive Manager and a great Reflective Supervisor, which is part of the ASYE. The whole team have been supportive. There was a lot of training available, my caseloads are manageable and I have an appropriate level of supervision. My first day began with a two week induction to Devon County Council and the ASYE.

What’s your favourite part of what you do?

I really enjoy, at the moment, the high level of Reflective Supervision. I can feel myself growing throughout the process, so it gives me an opportunity to reflect on the people that I work with and that’s really important in my role, especially when learning a new, a new role.

How have you progressed through your role?

It’s early days and I’m learning all the time. I feel more confident to question other people’s ideas and decisions, so that I can really understand what’s going on.

What benefits do you enjoy?

I have a good choice of places that I can work, I can work from home. There are two or three other offices that I can work with. I have a team from Health that I can work with on a daily basis and I can also arrange to meet up with members of the Social Work Team.

What else do you enjoy about your role?

I’ve been invited to join a Multi Agency Team, which is a really positive space, for not only supporting other professionals, but to identify universal services that are available locally. So, it supports people who really don’t always, necessarily, meet the criteria for one service or another. And, it’s used by all sorts of professionals including, GPs and the voluntary sector, as well.

What do you enjoy about living and working in Devon?

The main thing that impressed me about Devon is that it’s working really hard to address inequalities, that have their roots in race. It’s happening on all levels in the organisation and it’s really refreshing and brings about hope for the future.