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Introducing our new Consultant Social Worker - Sarah Brain

Hi everyone! I have been working as a Consultant Social Worker for the West Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership on a 12month secondment since the start of April. I cannot believe how quickly that time has gone and how much I have settled in with the lovely team I work with. As I have been settling into the new role, I have started to make connections with people across the partnership as I truly believe that positive relationships lay at the heart of good social work and are key to achieving common aims and goals within the partnership of promoting good quality education and practice in social work.

For those that I have not yet had the chance to speak to, I look forward to meeting and working with you over the next 12months, but in the meantime I would like to share a little about myself and what has brought me to this role.

I have been a qualified Social Worker since 2012 and have worked for Stoke on Trent City Council adults’ services since 2013 where I have gained experience in hospital social work teams (both acute settings and community settings) and community social work teams. Since 2018 I have held the post of Senior Social Worker on one of the community social work teams and this job involves supporting a team of social workers, wellbeing assessors and support workers both informally by way of case discussions and support with complex case work and in terms of formal supervision to wellbeing assessors.

I am also a qualified Best Interests Assessor under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) and have previously held the post of Mental Capacity Act and DoLS Lead for Stoke adults’ services. I have a particular passion for all matters relating to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and its links with human rights and one of my passions is to support other professionals to better understand and work within this often complex area of practice. I am by no means an expert and this area as with all aspects of social work is constantly changing and evolving and I am also passionate about learning and developing myself and others to ensure we are the best that we can be for the adults we work with.

This passion for supporting and helping to develop others in the profession was what led me to become a practice educator; I feel that this role has really helped to enhance me as a professional and has given me so many new skills to enhance my practice. I absolutely love seeing others learn and grow and knowing that in even a small way, I have been a part of that. Practice education for me, is so important in social work and needs to be recognised and valued for the pivotal role it can play both for students in helping them in the best possible start on their journey, but also in supporting the ongoing learning and development of the whole social care workforce. This was what led me to apply for the role as consultant social worker for the teaching partnership to hopefully support the partnership in its aim to improve the quality of social work education and practice throughout the west midlands.

Starting a new role is scary, change can be scary, but I have learnt along the way that whilst this carries risk, it can also carry so much potential for growth and development. Whilst I know I have so much to bring to this role, I equally have much to learn; but I am embracing the opportunity ahead of me and look forward to my own growth and development and learning from all those I will meet along this journey.

As I write this, we come to the end of practice week which has been so inspiring to me and given me much to reflect on as well as reaffirming for me how proud I am of my profession and the wonderful people that are a part of it. Of course it has highlighted that as social workers, we still have much to learn and improve on, but I am inspired by the contributions from practitioners, academics and experts by experience and it has left me feeling uplifted, motivated and hopeful that change can and will happen and excited to be a part of that. As a programme team , we will be getting together to reflect on the messages from practice week and how we can support the partnership to help make the changes needed.

A quote from practice week which really resonated with me and my feelings right now at the start of the next chapter in my journey is this;

‘The river needs to take the risk of entering the ocean, because only then will fear disappear, because that’s where the river will know it is not about disappearing into the ocean, but of becoming the ocean’. (Kahlil Gibran).

Thank you for reading and I look forward to working with each and every one of you!

Sarah Brain

Consultant Social Worker

West Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership

Email: Sarah.Brain@coventry.gov.uk

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