Trust set to welcome social work trainees

Posted: 09/08/23

Five women standing in front of a building

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) is set to welcome social work trainees as part of a national programme.

For the first time, CNTW is taking on trainees from the Think Ahead programme which works to strengthen the contribution of social work in mental health settings.

Think Ahead works with the NHS and local authorities to widen the pool of talent entering mental health social work and to create a community of advocates for social approaches in both mental health services and across society. The programme has 140 trainees this year who will be placed in teams across the country.

The four CNTW trainees have just begun five weeks of training at Middlesex University, where they will cover mental health law, legislation in social work, and ethics and values, before they join the Trust’s forensic services on 21st August.

The two-year programme will see the trainees spend a year learning on the job and then a year working as newly qualified social workers whilst completing their assessed year of employment. At the end of the programme, trainees will receive a Postgraduate Diploma as well as a master’s degree in social work.

Victoria Pickles, consultant social worker at CNTW, leads on the Think Ahead programme at the Trust. She will provide supervision, observation, education and advice to the trainees. She recently went to Middlesex University as part of the assessment team for the trainees’ ‘Readiness for Direct Practice’ and to support with the delivery of seminars.

She said: “This programme puts social work education at the forefront and raises the visibility of the profession within mental health services.

“To be able to have more social workers across the Trust is a huge benefit to multi-disciplinary teams.”

During their time at CNTW, the trainees will work across inpatient and community forensics services, providing support for people who have a mental disorder and have come into contact with the Criminal Justice System.

They will complete a portfolio of work to meet the Professional Capabilities Framework needed to become qualified social workers. If successful, the trainees will be registered with Social Work England and offered positions within the Trust.

Victoria added: “I’m really excited for the trainees to start work and working in forensic services is a fantastic opportunity.

“Social work is essential because it addresses not only the symptoms but the underlying social detriments that influence mental health. Social workers can play a pivotal role in encouraging social capital which can be an effective way of improving outcomes at both individual and community levels.”

Abbi Outen is one of the trainees taking part. She said: “I’m excited for the new challenge of joining the Think Ahead programme. I’m looking forward to learning how to implement social work theory into everyday practice.”

Trainee Alice Gilmour added: “I feel really inspired to begin working in a multi-disciplinary team and expand my knowledge of mental health and social work practice.”

Trainee Sharifah Alrabah said: “While on this exciting journey towards being a social worker, I’m eager to positively impact people’s lives and promote wellbeing in our communities.”

The Trust already employs around 120 qualified social workers in various roles, such as supporting young people and their families during hospital stays.

CNTW is a leading provider of mental health and learning disability services.