Name: Fran Duncan.
Job: Social work consultant, Northumberland Care
How long in the job: 18 months.
Career highlight: Delivering a paper recently on
the challenges of promoting social work in an integrated setting at
an international conference in Australia.
Career lowlight: I was happy to leave social work
to have a family in the 70s. It was the age of being a generic
social worker. I was a senior social worker responsible for a
generic team and was clueless about mental health and child care.
It is scary being responsible for services that you don’t have a
good knowledge base for.
Best training ever done: A counselling course. I
use those skills to relate to people. They are transferable and it
underpins so much of what you do in social services.
Over the course of my career, I wish I hadn’t:
Taken so long to join the British Association of Social Workers and
work at a more national level.
The most painful lesson I’ve learned at work is:
You cannot do it all. Let go of the things that are not in your
remit to influence.
Me and my career: I’ve been defining this role as
I’ve gone along because it was a new post. It is about promoting
social workers and social care in the context of the integration of
primary care and adult care services at the trust and looking at
professional leadership. Leadership is something we need to do as a
profession and I promote it to senior management, making them aware
of social worker issues. There had been concern from social workers
about their role being marginalised, so I spent the first six
months meeting all the social workers here. I had been working in a
health-dominated setting before so was used to flying the flag for
social work in that situation. I can be talking to the chief
executive one day and mentoring newly qualified social workers the
2003-current: Social work consultant, Northumberland Care
1989-2003: Manager, social work, then principal
social worker, Marie Curie Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne.
1988-9: Part-time social worker, Gateshead.
1972-5: Senior social worker, Newcastle
1971-2: Social worker, St James Hospital,
1969-70: Unqualified social worker, Hospital for