Career journeys at Together

At Together we support our staff with career pathways with supportive and inspirational colleagues, learning and qualifications. Below are examples of members of our team who have developed their careers at Together:

Career journeys at Together

Working at NIHCSS with Senior Recovery Worker Tim Bonfield

Tim Bonfield is a Senior Recovery Worker with NIHCSS who works in the community supporting people experiencing mental distress. In this film he describes how his role is both rewarding and challenging with no two days being the same. The team work closely in collaboration with colleagues and together with supporting professionals from other agencies, especially in crisis situations to get their service users the help they need. Tim describes how life experience has equipped him in his role which calls for him to be resilient, calm under pressure, and understanding and accepting of the people he works with.


Together Career Pathways: Richard Broad – Operations and Development Manager

Richard joined Together in April 2002 by way of application, as Project Worker in our accommodation service in Bexhill on Sea. Today, August 2021, Richard is the Operations and Development Manager for our CQC accommodation based services.

Richard’s journey through Together

2002 – Richard joined Lawn Court as a Project Worker.

Richard didn’t join Together with any ambitions to progress. He just wanted to be the best project worker he could.

There were 2 things that really stood out for Richard which influenced his career journey:

  1. Richard had a fantastic manager when he first joined, Sandra Collins. Richard had been working at Lawn Court for 2 days, he had sat and spent time chatting to service users and took a couple of service users for ice cream and coffee. Richard didn’t feel he was doing enough. He sat down with Sandra and expressed his concerns. Sandra said what he was doing was the most important part of his role, spending time with service users and getting to know them. Sandra never allowed staff to read a service users files. She wanted them to get to know the people they supported as people, not a diagnoses or casefile.
  2. He was asked by the Deputy Manager to go to a forensic mental health unit regarding a referral to the service. Richard was a project worker, and felt out of his depth when they spoke about sections, CTO’s, section 37 and 41 and he felt angry he had been put into that position. But on reflection whilst he felt out of his depth and felt he hadn’t done a good job, he recognised that the Deputy Manager believed he had the confidence to go to that referral. He was spurred on to learn more about people’s rights and was able to recognise when an external agency was trying to implement something that they had no right to which led to better outcomes for service users.

He started to really see where his role was making positive change.

2006 – Senior Project Worker, Lawn Court

Richard’s manager Sandra always wanted to push people to be the best they could. She would encourage them and promoted training and learning. She wanted to see people grow in their career. It was Sandra that encouraged Richard to apply for the Senior post.

As Lawn Court was on the South Coast and they were mainly left to manage the service, this led Richard to explore different ways of working to ensure the service users were encouraged to lead their own support and say what worked for them and what didn’t.

2009 – Project Co-ordinator, Lawn Court

In 2009 there was a restructure of positions. They lost the deputy roles and changed project managers to project co-ordinators. The change in role led to the manager taking redundancy and the post of Project Co-ordinator became vacant. Richard applied for the position and was successful.

This role enabled Richard to really think about what it was an individual service user wanted.

He wanted to develop a culture where we could say yes more to service users around things that supported their wellbeing. Richard also made small changes that made Lawn Court feel like a home for people. For example, all new service users would receive a welcome pack which contained the basic essentials such as shower gel, toothbrush, toothpaste. Little things that meant a lot.

2018 – Operations and development manager

Richard was happy as Project Co-ordinator. An interim Acting up ODM post became available and Richard was asked if he would consider taking up that post as he had supported another service going through a difficult time with excellent results. A few months later, the permanent role of ODM for accommodation based services became vacant and Richard was successful.

Who inspired you and were your role models?

Sandra Collins Richard’s first Project Manager – she saw potential in Richard and always encouraged him in his role.

Anne Beales, Mandy Chainey and the Service User Leadership Team. Looking back, this team inspired him to look at the tangible benefits to changing people’s lives. They helped to highlight the importance of the voice of people using services. An example being:- in order to achieve a 5 star hygiene rating service users were not allowed to use the kitchen unless the cook was there. Richard wanted to allow service users to be able to use the kitchen outside of those time to promote more independence and less reliance on staff. This meant the rating went from 5 star to 4 star and that was ok.

Learning that has supported Richard’s journey

5 day induction to Together – it helped Richard see how he could be the best project worker for that service and gave a great overview of the values of the organisation
NVQ – this was carried out in-house when we had in-house trainers and assessors
Together’s Management Development Programme – delivered by Wendy Rankin, external trainer, Action Learning Sets.


Richard is still part of the Skills for Care manager network. Being a manager in a specific service type can be a lonely place and this allowed him to feel less isolated. He was able to be with other people in the same service types where they could problem solve together and support each other.

Together Career Pathways: Paul Appleby – Recovery Worker, NIHCSS

Paul used Together services, therefore started out as service user – was not sure of the timeline for this. Transitioned on to being a Volunteer Peer Supporter in 2018 at Together Norfolk service Norfolk Integrated Housing and Community Support Service (NIHCSS) and did this role for 1 year. Peer Support Volunteer was via application.

Today, or rather since 9 November 2020 Paul has been a Recovery Worker at NIHCSS service, Boudicca Court, in Norfolk, a partnership service across a number of providers. He is based at Boudicca Court, but role is outreach to community. Paul works for Mind working with in the NIHCSS service and is a partnership staff member.

Paul was a service user and helped run groups. Then transitioned to Volunteer Peer Supporter. Staff at NIHCSS, and the Manager, encouraged Paul to apply for the Recovery Worker Role, which he successfully did. He started working 3 days a week. Then went onto 4 days a week from April 2021. Then full time from June 2021 – other staff reduced days and he took up these days, after being asked if he would like to. He did find it hard going full time at first, but then got used to this. His role involves working shifts.

The people that Paul worked with that inspired him.

Paul said he spent a long time as a service user, therefore, could see good and not so good support in practice, or receiving it himself. When he received support from the NIHCSS service, things changed. Therefore, this helped Paul realise getting the right support was crucial. Paul explained Jit Patel, Support Worker at the service had how much he helped him. Paul also recognised the value that getting more involved himself in helping at informal service user groups had help and inspired him.

As Paul went from being a volunteer into a paid role he decided to start with 3 days, as was not sure how he might cope in this role. Having lived experience, good rapport and understanding helped Paul in his role.

The team and manager have been key in supporting Paul in this role. He was clearly passionate about his job and expressed how much he enjoys it. Of course, there are challenges to but when he sees things change for people, or they achieve their goals it is very rewarding.

Training: Paul has completed all of the E-learning – even ones he did not need to, as enjoys learning and spoke about the power of knowledge. Has attended Suicide training and ligature.

Paul is a member of Together’s National Steering Group (NSG).

Paul keeps up to date with developments in the field via:

  • Training
  • During supervision
  • Online – social media
  • Learning from other agencies.
  • Free online course

Together Career Pathways: Jo Bailey – Peer Support Worker

Jo joined Together on 17th September 2018, by way of application, as a Peer Support Worker in West Norfolk. Jo remains in this role today.

Jo’s journey with Together

2015/2016 – Jo started using Together service in Norfolk mental health and housing to help with debt issue. Jo’s wellbeing worker told her about a roadshow which Jo attended.

At the roadshow Jo met Anne Beales, head of service user involvement directorate, who spoke very passionately about service user leadership and peer support. Jo also met Maxine and Sandra who went on to become Peer Support Workers under the previous contract. They’d done the Service User Involvement and Leadership training course, and Peer Support training and set up a group. They invited Jo to join, which she did.

Jo was made to feel very welcome, and from being a part of this she became more and more interested in Service User Involvement and Leadership. Jo then got a visit from Martin Stanier and Johanna Wilson who were recruiting for the Self-Management Steering Group. Jo applied and joined as a volunteer.

As a volunteer, Jo also visited a service with Liam Cole to carry out an audit. What stood out for Jo was that she felt like her voice was important. Jo found that Together’s actions didn’t feel tokenistic, they felt genuine and authentic.

Through the Self-Management Steering Group Jo worked with Martin, Jess Worner and Jackie Hardy who inspired Jo to learn more about Service User Involvement and Leadership. About a year later a there was an opportunity to join the NSG and Jo was successful in being recruited to this voluntary position. In all the volunteer roles it felt important to provide a collective service user perspective so she spent more time networking and gathering service user views locally and nationally to inform these roles.

3 years ago this job came up due to a contract change. Jo applied for the role and was successful!

A lot of things Jo did as a volunteer helped her to find her confidence and find her voice again. It gave Jo the confidence to apply for the job and to complete an Introduction to Counselling course which Jo loved. This then encouraged Jo to undertake a yearlong counselling skills course. This was the first time Jo had studied graduate level training since university as a teenager.

Role models

  • Sandra and Maxine the Peer Support Workers who Jo met at the roadshow
  • Jess Worner
  • Angela Newton
  • Anne Beales
  • Jackie Hardy – Jackie is very passionate about co production and so is Jo.
  • Mandy Chainey – she was brilliant. Co-delivered Peer Support training course. Always been supportive, great listener and passionate.
    Together’s general ethos, doing ‘with’ rather than ‘for’. Jo says that many services do things ‘for’ the service users, which is quite damaging. This risks the service user becoming deskilled and losing confidence in sorting out own problems. For Together staff to come in and make plan together, when same problem came around the next year Jo had the skills to deal with it.

Training that Jo has completed

Service User/Volunteer

Jo completed the Service User Involvement and Leadership training course, and Peer Support training through Together.

Doing courses as a service user, made Jo realise that she wants to do more studying and that she was interested in Mental Health. Jo’s involvement with Together, as well as completing these courses, gave her the confidence to do an Introduction to Counselling course which she really loved. Jo then went on and did a yearlong counselling skills course, which was the first time she’d studied graduate level training since university as a teenager. She had the confidence to do something she hadn’t done in years.

Since becoming Peer Support Worker

Jo re-did the Peer Support training and completed the essential training that Together provides. Jo has enjoyed having the learning take place online, it has helped to have information in chunks and have time to reflect and practice in between sessions. Before, it was a lot of travelling to get to classroom and then a lot of information to receive at once.

Jo has also been taking part in Reflective Practice, led by Rhiannon, alongside two of her colleagues for the past year. Jo has found this incredibly helpful as it has given her a chance to reflect on cases and explore them on a deeper level.

Norfolk County Council provided some level 2 courses which also came with a mentor. This was really helpful in giving Jo time to think about future development and receive guidance on this.

Keeping learning up to date

Hands on experience…Jo is really interested in the Power Threat Meaning framework.

They invited an external party to support a client with this area, and normally the manager would join, however due to Jo’s interest in this area she was invited to be present.

Being part of a close team…If Jo or her colleagues are stuck with something they can reach out to each other and get someone else’s perspective which really helps
Bite-size learning and at the point of need…Such as You Tube to watch lectures.