Senior Mental Health Social Worker shares her rewarding career journey

After working in Adult Social Care for 22 years, Jill Gardener is sharing her career journey in social care at North Tyneside Council

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From Support Worker to Senior Social Worker…

In 2001, Jill started her social work career at North Tyneside Council. 22 years later she continues to grow and thrive in its Adult Social Care service.

As part of the launch of North Tyneside Care Academy, Jill Gardener is sharing her journey of working in Adult Social Care to help encourage more people to consider a career in care.

After completing her Psychology degree, Jill joined the council as a Support Worker and is now a Senior Social Worker in its specialist Mental Health Team.

Throughout her career, Jill has worked in a number of roles supporting adults in the Borough and gained a social work degree in the meantime.

Jill’s story in her own words

“I started my career as a Support Worker in the Mental Health Team and over twenty years later I’ve come full circle and I’m now back in the team with more experience and new qualifications as a supervisor. It’s been a great journey.”

“My original degree wasn’t in social work, but I knew that my skills and values were aligned with the role so I took up a position helping to support hospital discharges. It gave me a great foundation and understanding of the work that happens in adult social care, so when the opportunity arose for me to complete a work-based learning degree in Social Work I took it up straight away.”

“I did the degree through the Council with Northumbria University, which meant I didn’t have to worry about fees and student loans as I was still getting paid, and working in my role while I did it, which was brilliant.

“The Council has treated me well and provided me opportunities to develop, after I qualified, I worked in the community team. I knew mental health was one of my biggest interests and an area I loved working. In 2021, I stepped up to being a senior social worker and now I supervise some of the team, alongside the Team Manager and other senior social workers.”

“I love my job because it’s never boring, there’s always something new to learn and every day is a challenge meaning I’m always evolving my skills and knowledge.”

“Working in mental health is interesting because it’s so complex, you work with people over a long time and build relationships with them.”

North Tyneside’s Mental Health Team work with residents to support people with severe mental health needs. They help to meet care and support needs, assist hospital discharges, develop support plans and much more.

It’s rewarding work, and Jill has spoken about one resident she supported who still fills her with pride years later:

“I worked with someone who had spent their whole life either in the justice system or being cared for in supported accommodation, they needed twenty-four-hour support and were resistant to any support.

“It was a real test for me as they had no self-esteem and confidence, and my mission was to show them that they could live independently, and they had the ability to do things they didn’t believe they could.

“Over five years I worked with them to gradually increase their independent living, slowly reducing the support they received until they reached the point that they no longer needed the support at all.

“I still think about it to this day, it was so rewarding to see their self-confidence grow and watch them transform into someone they never believed they could become. I showed them they didn’t need us by being consistent in their lives and building trust with them.

“Although there are challenges in care, it can be very rewarding. One positive outcome is worth all of the difficulties and seeing people progress and make changes to their lives is what keeps me going and passionate.”

North Tyneside’s Adult Mental Health Team

North Tyneside Council is currently recruiting social workers like Jill to join its Mental Health Team, with a variety of fulfilling roles available.

Leading the service is Katie Simpson, Assistant Director (Mental Health and Complex Needs) in Adult Social Care, Katie is encouraging people who are passionate about making a difference to consider working in her growing team: “Social workers play a vital role in our communities; they offer a lifeline for our residents at the time they need it the most. In our service, you’ll work with residents, their families and our partners to achieve the best possible outcomes.

“Every day is different, and working in such a complex area, you’ll put all of your skills, experience, and knowledge into use. You will be helping to change residents lives to keep them safe and supported, something which can be challenging yet extremely rewarding. You will be supported by an experienced and friendly team, working together with our residents to help them identify and build on their strengths, promoting a model of social recovery that makes real difference.

“Jill’s story is a great example of just how fulfilling the role can be, and her progression to a senior supervisory role is a testament to the hard work and dedication she’s shown throughout her career. I’m really proud to have Jill on our team, leading a group of skilled social workers.”

If you’re considering a career in Adult Social Care, you can view the vacancies here.

Join the team

North Tyneside’s Adult Mental Health Team is recruiting to a number of roles now.

Roles include an Approved Mental Health Professional, Senior Social Workers and A Senior Social Worker for the Adult Social Care Front Door.

Please note, applications for these roles close on 16 April 2023.