"I’m 70, the same age as the NHS, and I’ve chosen not to retire. I still love my job as much as I always have."
Marian Trendell, Deputy Director of Social Work and Principal Social Worker
“My job is all about people, and in particular working with partners to help keep people safe.
“When I finally settled into my current social work role I already had 20 years of work experience behind me, and I’ve had an extremely varied career!
“My first job was with the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance, the forerunner of the Department of Health and Social Security. It was very new, exciting and interesting; I dealt with people at times of major change in their lives – sickness, maternity, retirement and those who found themselves destitute and in need of urgent support.
“I then spent many enjoyable years managing the office of a credit company, and it was fascinating to see how the private sector worked. I was then self-employed for around six years during which I ran a chauffeur courier service. We were on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - it was a very different career!
“Then, having spent years working independently, I took stock of where it was going and decided I needed a change. I applied for three different jobs with the police, education department and the NHS and when I had to make the choice of which to take I went with the NHS, although it was a different job to the one I interviewed for.
“The role was Patient Affairs Officer at Southlands Hospital, which suited my background and experience, and I later moved to be Social Services Officer at Brighton General Hospital on the condition that I would be supported to do my social work qualification. I covered all of the wards, providing social care support to the patients and was their link to other teams such as housing, home support and residential or home nursing care. I felt very much part of the clinical team and it was a great place to work.
“I’ve always been health-based with social work and I’ve worked consistently within mental health; that specialism was my choice. Post qualification I became an Approved Social Worker – what we now call Approved Mental Health Professionals or AMHPs.
“I’ve worked in many different places at Sussex Partnership – I was the last social worker at Hellingly Hospital – and when the remaining older people’s ward became the Beechwood Unit at Uckfield Community Hospital I moved to work there. At that time I was the Trust’s only Approved Social Worker for older people in North Weald. I then joined the forensic service as a senior practitioner on the secure unit and in the community, so I’ve been all over!
“Around 15 years ago I was asked to become the professional lead for East Sussex, so half my time was spent as a social worker with the forensic service and the other half was leading on things like supervision of senior practitioners. I was then offered the role of professional head of social care for East Sussex. Initially I wasn’t keen as it meant giving up practice, and for me this role is all about the people I work with, so it was a tough decision to make.
“Two years ago went part time and now job share the role of Deputy Director of Social Work and Principal Social worker with Andy Porter.
“Even though I’m now part time I think I’m busier than ever before. I am responsible for safeguarding in East Sussex, and I work closely with Sussex Police, particularly on work around the use of Section 136 – the part of the Mental Health Act that allows the police to take a person to a place of safety if they believe they are suffering from a mental illness and need immediate care.
“I’ve been the mental health appointed governor for South East Coast Ambulance Service for the last seven years, ensuring that mental health issues are represented, and Andy and I are the Trust leads for ‘Prevent’, the government’s counter-terrorism programme addressing radicalisation.
“I’m 70, the same age as the NHS, and I’ve chosen not to retire. I still love my job as much as I always have. Over the last 50 years I feel I’ve gone full circle – I started in social care and have found my way back, and it was like a duck going back to water. I’ve had a fabulous career and consider myself very privileged.
“I’m a passionate believer in the provision of services under NHS and for me it’s one of the most important things underpinning the values of this country. How we care for people in their time of most difficult need is a measure of the society we live in and how much we value people.”