Hi! My name is Debora Stewart and I’m one of two new Consultant Social workers seconded to the Teaching Partnership. I began my secondment on 1st April 2021 and have been expending nearly all my brain power learning about the different projects, research and development opportunities being worked on within the teaching partnership. It’s great to see representatives from academia and practice coming together to create high quality training, teaching and development across the region.
Having studied Music Composition for my undergraduate degree, I didn’t expect to find myself pursuing a career in social work, but sometimes just one conversation can change your view of the world… For me, it was a conversation with someone at a family funeral. She was a mother of an adult child who has learning disabilities and she spoke to me about the barriers her daughter faced to accessing education and other opportunities, which for me I took for granted. Interestingly, we both remember that conversation differently now, but it sparked a drive in me to find a career in which I could do something to help remove the barriers faced by people with disabilities. Like most of us who enter social work, I wanted to make a difference. I had no social care experience, so I found a job as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities, and this gave me the experience I needed to get onto the MA Social Work.
Since qualifying in 2009 I have worked in adults’ services, starting my career in hospital social worker for two years, and then spending 10 years in community adults’ teams. I have worked with adults who have learning disabilities, physical impairments, and older people.
My passion for practice education is what led me to apply for the Consultant Social Worker position. I’ve always been a creative person and have enjoyed finding ways to use this aspect of myself in my social work practice, particularly in Practice Education. From taking my very first student I realised I had a passion for developing others, teaching and supporting social work practice, and I have sought to focus my career in this area since then. I am an independent practice educator and mentor outside of this role, which I love doing, and it keeps me very busy.
I’m looking forward to experiencing a new type of social work over the next year and relishing the opportunity to work with so many committed and dedicated partners. It has been strange to start a new role and complete my induction all from the comfort of my own home, but this is nothing compared to some of the challenges the pandemic has presented for social workers and students. It’s an exciting time to join the team, as things start nearing a new normal, and hopefully we can all start meeting in person again soon.
Consultant Social Worker
West Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership