Our stories

With AWP you are supported, encouraged and valued

Be a leader - Whatever your grade, with AWP you can be a leader

Jacob Kelly, Healthcare Assistant, Blackberry Hill Hospital, Bristol

Circle Jacobkelly"When I started working at Southmead Hospital in a high dependency mental health unit there was some unused space in the back garden, so along with the patients we started a vegetable patch. We entered the produce in a local flower show and won a few prizes. I then moved to another unit and on my first day in the job, brought in a cheque for £1,200 to fund a project to transform the garden. We entered the flower show again and won some awards. Activities carried on improving on the ward through charitable funds and we got things like table tennis equipment. The patients, staff and my manager put me forward for a staff award and I won. This was amazing. We then got funding and the backing for a larger gardening project, to run across ten wards. I have gained confidence and recognition for the ideas I have come up with. The best bit was all the people I've met through my projects that otherwise I wouldn't have known."

 Become an expert - With AWP you can specialise in what interests you most about mental health

Dr Anthony Harrison, Consultant Nurse (Liaison Psychiatry) Hillview Lodge, Bath

Circle Anthonyharrison"I became a Consultant Nurse in 2000, the first in the South West, which really highlights AWP's innovation and creativity in making new appointments. Potentially in mental health, there are lots of different areas in which to specialise. My interest in self harm and suicide (issues which are closely linked) and how to prevent suicide, developed from my liaison work. I then became a Senior Nurse and as such took a leadership role, thinking more strategically about suicide prevention. Every case tells a story and it is important to think strategically about common links between cases. We also follow the national agenda and are aware of national issues."


Close the gaps - With AWP you can do new things to meet local needs

Mary Griggs, Clinical Psychologist, Specialised Deaf Service

Circle Mary Griggs"The Specialised Deaf Service was set up to support deaf and deafblind people with mental health needs. Most of our service users are British Sign language (BSL) users who are experiencing serious mental or emotional distress. We can provide specialist assessment, therapy and consultation to deaf service users and carers and other professionals working with deaf people with mental health needs. We understand that deaf people experience a higher rate of mental health problems and also that communication and cultural barriers have often stopped people accessing the right support. We work directly in BSL and have other communication skills to ensure people's needs are assessed as effectively as possible. The service tries to work with other deaf professionals as far as possible with all consultation, teaching and therapy. The service plays an important role in providing information, consultation and advice around the needs of culturally deaf people. Our goal is to work collaboratively with deaf people to help them develop new skills and feel more in control of their lives."

Return to Practice - With a wealth of services and locations, there's a role to suit you within AWP.

Michelle Devitt, Community Nurse, Specialised Deaf Service

Circle Michael DevittNurses leave their profession or take a break from their careers for many different reasons, for Michelle it was the ending of her fixed term contract and the chance to live in Switzerland with her partner.

In 2013 Michelle was living in London, working with a local smoking cessation team when her fixed term contract came to an end. At this time Michelle was offered the exciting opportunity to take a break from her career, an opportunity to change her life completely. With her partner Michelle moved to the beautiful Swiss town of Biel/Bienne where she would spend some years learning French, German and one can only assume singing in the Swiss mountains like a modern Maria von Trapp.

Michelle's move back to the UK and journey towards returning to practice was unplanned, whilst visiting her brother in Bristol she was diagnosed with cancer and decided to remain close to family while undergoing treatment. During the years between her recovery and her decision to enrol on the Return to Practice course, Michelle continued to live in Bristol and explored options outside of nursing, volunteering at St. Peter's Hospice, and later helping friends set up a local restaurant.

The Return to Practice programme is for qualified nurses and midwives whose registration has lapsed and provides those undertaking the course with an opportunity to gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to return to the Nursing and Midwifery Council register as a practising nurse or midwife.

"The return to practice course was great because it allowed me to explore my options with no commitments. I wanted to take the course and see what options were open to me at the end of it."

"I enrolled in August of 2017, after being encouraged by friends working at AWP. The course was very practical, it included ward based training as well as the academic element.

"While undertaking the training I found myself wondering 'What am I going to do?', the course helped me realise that I didn't want to work in wards but really enjoyed being community based.

"I had previously worked in a deaf service and can sign in British Sign Language, so decided to look into whether AWP had a local deaf service. I emailed Dr Mary Griggs who was hugely supportive, and soon after completing the Return to Practice course I was working with Mary and the team on AWP's bank service. Later taking up a substantive post when a position became available.

Whilst the majority of Michelle's service users are located in Bath and North East Somerset, the deaf service operates across all of AWP's localities and Michelle travels across the localities to meet with patients, uses Skype where possible and has been developing a text based service for patients with Dr Griggs.

"I feel like I've fallen on my feet, like I've come home to nursing. Colleagues and services have been really receptive to engaging in change and working with the service, working in the deaf service can be challenging as there is a national struggle to ensure that deaf service users have better access to services.

"Following my diagnosis of cancer and recovery I've much more of an appreciation that having a good work/life balance is in my daily happiness and continued professional practice. It has been great to get back to work, getting a sense of purpose after being out of work with an illness. And with great support and management from Mary balance has been possible, she's hugely supportive and encouraging.

"To anyone considering the Return to Practice course, it's worth doing in order to get a feel of what is required of you and it's a nice way to 'dip your toe' back into the profession."

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