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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Don't fear imposter syndrome when you're part of an epic team making a difference

This opinion piece is about 1 year old

Fee Brown on how she finds inspiration everyday working at Penumbra

I feel like a fraud when I think of myself as working in social care. I’m not a practitioner. I suppose it’s maybe a reminder of all the different ways anyone with a big heart can contribute to the sector.

Anyhoo, like any good fraud does I decided to look to others for blogging inspo.

My role in comms means I get to build relationships with colleagues right across the whole organisation, like Heather who’s part of our HR team. Just this week I was able to share Heather’s story across our channels.

Heather explains that speaking to different team members every day from different backgrounds gives her a feeling of pride in being able to contribute to such an inclusive organisation. She’s inspired by the work everyone does, and makes it her daily mission to ensure everyone knows how amazing they are and how much they’re appreciated. Heather tells me that she feels privileged everyday coming to work and talks about her excitement at continuing that journey with Penumbra as a place that’s close to her heart. Big congratulations incidentally, because (drum roll please!) Heather has just completed a degree qualification and takes on a well-deserved promotion. We absolutely could not be prouder of her.

The social care sector is full of skilled and professional people like Heather who are in it to make a difference. I think that’s probably one of the benefits of working where we do. We’re not service driven. We’re driven by our values and wanting to always improve for the people who access our support. So we’re always encouraged and supported to continually develop and learn. Or to grow and thrive, as Heather puts it. Of course, learning on the job is no small task, but it can make all the difference motivationally when you have a supportive manager and employer.

I know from my own experience I’ve always considered myself someone who’s super confident in my own abilities, but self-doubt creeps in on a bad day. I’m fortunate that my manager has given me so much creative freedom to try new things. Sarah has been a real cheerleader for me when I’m being too hard on myself. That kind of moral support from colleagues can make all the difference. A real confidence boost when your colleagues have your back.

It’s something that resonates with Connor too, who says that working in mental health gives him a work environment where he can thrive, where he’s supported and where he feels valued. Connor is one of our brilliant peer colleagues in our Aberdeen team, by the way. He describes himself as living proof that you don’t need to have it all set to a plan when you leave high school, but it’s good to know what you’re passionate about.

I ask Connor about the rewards of his role and he tells me that he’s met some incredible people going through incredible hardships. For him, just being there for each person and having even just a small impact in their lives is what it’s all about. He tells me that nothing compares to the heartwarming feeling of helping defuse a dire situation for someone. 

But listen, it’s all fine and dandy me, the comms person (our biggest superfan!), predictably talking up our work. What about the people we support, what do they tell us? I check in with wonderful, compassionate Lili, a practitioner from our suicide bereavement service in Ayrshire. She tells me that many people have told her how much they’ve appreciated the bespoke nature of the service we provide. She talks about the impact on that person of being able to build up a trusting relationship with someone after their world has crumbled. She describes how getting to know the unique way in which each person would like to be supported is very special.

What Lili said got me thinking about Catherine’s story. Catherine recently shared her journey with us as a blog she’d written herself and she talks about a visit to Kelvingrove Art Gallery our team were able to arrange for her. She’d visited the gallery 51 years earlier and it became a place of safety in her mind during a very difficult and dark period of mental ill health. She describes how, for the first in time in 30 years, she felt like a new person. The visit was very special for Catherine because she’s living with a life limiting illness, and she explains how she’ll be able to look back at the photos she took of the day when she becomes unwell. She knows she’ll be able to remember the fun she had and how good she felt. I get the sense from her that she takes real comfort in that.

It's a privilege to be part of our team and the wider social care sector. Every single one of these amazing humans should be celebrated. Our colleagues and the people we support are what make the sector so special.

You’ll never get rich working in social care and support (that’s a whole other, slightly more very ranty blog!). But you’ll always be part of an epic team of humans who value your ideas and creativity; and where your ability to connect with people during their most difficult times could make all the difference to their lives.

Do I still feel like a fraud? Possibly, but I’m working on that. In the meantime, I’m leaving you with a direct quote from my lovely colleague, Aniena, whose fire-in-the-belly says it far better than this tragically predictable superfan: “I have always been in finance department, but now being with Penumbra, I am doing finance for a bloody good purpose. Waking up in the morning now for the first time in my life, gives me a sense of belonging”.

Fee Brown is comms manager for Penumbra Mental Health. She’d love you to check out the current opportunities in their dream jobs portal.



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about 1 year ago

Oh Fee - you really are a wonderful human! Thank you so much! xox

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