Spotlight On – The Together Team

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in News on 11th June, 2024

To celebrate Carers Week (10-16 June), we spoke to the Together team about their roles, what motivates them and some of their proudest achievements. 

What is the main purpose of your team? And what does a typical day look like?

Our team of seven includes;

  • Joanna Duke – Together and Carer Lead
  • Emily Clayton – Trust Lead for Peer Support
  • Emma Flint and Becci Tribble – Peer Support Leads
  • Mark Bridgman and Ian Henwood – Together Associate Directors
  • Andrew Bridge –  Business Support Administrator

Our purpose is to promote collaborative working between staff, patients and carers to shape and improve services across Devon Partnership NHS Trust. Our team’s remit includes development of peer support provision, co-ordination of the Together Expert by Experience Network (EbyE), and building a supportive offer for carers of people accessing Trust services.

As our remit is wide, every day is different for each member of the team.

For our Peer Support Leadership team, the day can consist of supporting teams to recruit Peer Support Workers (PSWs), developing opportunities for peers, facilitating training, and offering 1:1s to PSWs.

For our Together Associate Directors, the day might involve attending forums to represent people with lived experience and carers in decision-making about services, making a case for lived experience involvement and co-production.

For our Together and Carer Lead, the day can involve networking and building partnerships with external organisations, meeting with teams to discuss involvement pathways, co-delivering training with people with lived experience, and championing the Together ethos in strategic meetings.

Our Business Support Administrator keeps the team on track in many ways, such as co-ordinating our diary, taking meeting minutes, and communicating with the EbyE Network.

What are your team’s current priorities?

We are currently working on the implementation of the new Carers Strategy, as well as embedding the Triangle of Care across the organisation. We are also continuing to develop the Together EbyE Network offer and support teams and services with developing involvement pathways. Our Peer Support Leadership team are focusing their efforts on peer support training accreditation, recruitment, and retention, to ensure peers feel supported and well-equipped to offer peer work across dozens of different services.

We are looking forward to working closely with our teams and people with lived experience and partners to start the review of the Together strategy. Our ambition is to build positive, trusted, and enduring relationships with communities to improve services, support, and outcomes for people.

What qualifications and training do you have? And what career paths have you taken?

Between us, we have a wide range of skills and qualifications:

Members of our Peer Support Leadership team hold qualifications in clinical psychology, adult nursing, and counselling and psychology in community settings. They have backgrounds in a variety of settings from grass roots peer support, through policing, third sector management and business change leadership.

One of our Together Associate Directors has a Geology degree and a post-graduate teaching qualification in chemistry (PGCE), and was a fellow of the Geological Society. His pathway has taken him from geologist and business owner, to chemistry teacher, unpaid carer, and now to Together Associate Director  

Our Business Support Administrator has a degree in Journalism, Film, and Broadcasting from Cardiff University but gravitated towards graphic design and website creation.

Our Together and Carer Lead studied social pedagogy, Care and Prevention of Social Maladjustment, and Leadership and Management in Health and Social Care.

Continuing Professional Development is important to the team and some of our members spend their personal time on further education including Somatic Movement Therapy, psychology and vocational rehabilitation.

What are some of the challenges the team faces?

Our team has a wide remit and we work cross-county. We are really passionate about working with all services across the organisation but reaching every team can be challenging. 

We don’t have a dedicated office and instead we hot-desk. While this has some advantages, it also makes coming together as a team, and storing our many resources, difficult.

What do you enjoy most about being part of this team?

Working with a group of fabulous and supportive people.

It’s great feeling like you are making a difference and being able to involve people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to contribute. Every team member works above and beyond to achieve the best outcomes for the people we support.

What motivates you?

Working with a diverse range of teams and individuals and being able to use lived experience in a positive way to support others and improve carer experience.

Andrew added: “I am very altruistic and like to think that my contribution to the team helps it to function to achieve larger goals, improving services and service user experiences. I am motivated by compassion and this is particularly helpful when responding to our EbyE Network members, ensuring that I am always understanding of other people’s perspectives and experiences.”

What achievements are you most proud of?

  • Securing the first Lived Experience Charter in Community Mental Health Peer Support workforce development and seeing how everything has evolved over the last few years
  • Better support for PSWs and EbyEs
  • Starting the involvement framework for DPT with Recovery Devon – the precursor to Together and seeing how it has evolved
  • Working with carers, partners, and colleagues to review the Carers’ Strategy and supporting the wards to retain Triangle of Care Star 1
  • Development of the Carer Champion Network and working with inspirational staff who are passionate about improving carers’ experience
  • EbyE’s feeling involved, respected and able to make a difference

What’s the best bit of feedback you’ve received from a patient or service user?

We’ve received lots of lovely feedback – it’s hard to pick just one!

“The Together Network has evolved so much and there are so many opportunities for me to make a difference.”

“Being a good listener.”

“A big part of me feeling settled here so quickly has been having you and Emily on hand for extra support and to answer questions. It has been a huge factor in feeling like I’m in the right job, so thank you”

“I feel passionate about creating cultural shifts around mental/emotional health and wellbeing and how it is perceived; I feel this is a key part of my role as an Expert by Experience. The Together Network has enabled me to bring my passion to vital discussions and improvement work within DPT.”

“We were just saying how validating it is to hear about peer support and what’s in store for us in the months ahead, thank you. I feel like I’ve really arrived in the right place.”

“A huge difference, I already feel more confident and assertive in the role having attended. As PSW is a new role there is some confusion and anxiety in teams and with staff so having a comprehensive induction has really helped me to explain to the colleagues and clients I interact with what I do (and what I don’t do!)”

“It does feel like change in tide and a genuine care and respect for family and carers.”

What do you or/and your team do to unwind?

Getting out in nature and walking the dog. Seeing friends and going to the cinema.

Spending time on sandy beaches, playing guitar and reading science fiction.

Making Meccano models.

Making time for a good belly-laugh and a boogie!

And finally… how would you sum up your team in one word?

  • Awesome
  • Empowerment
  • Unique
  • Together
  • Dynamic
  • Authentic
  • Multi-talented