A newly registered nurse, who has qualified at the same time as his daughter, has opened up about turning his life around.
Steven Jewell, in December, celebrated the receipt of his PIN, marking the final step in becoming a registered mental health nurse.
“I don’t believe in ‘too old’, or ‘not enough intelligence or ability'”
His own experiences with depression and anxiety, after a traumatic childhood, pulled him towards profession.
Mr Jewell’s celebration was particularly special for him: his daughter, Stevie-Leigh Jewell, qualified as a mental health nurse just a few weeks prior.
They now work as colleagues at The Harbour psychiatric hospital in Blackpool, part of Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, under the same matron, just one ward from each other.
The father-daughter pair, who both faced mental health challenges in their past, celebrated their joint success with a photograph together in their nurse uniforms on Mr Jewell’s first day as a registrant.
The photo took social media by storm, gaining 21,000 ‘likes’ in just a few weeks and being seen by more than 660,000 people.
Mr Jewell was 38 when he began his four-year nursing apprenticeship via the University of Central Lancashire. A year later, his daughter started a nursing undergraduate degree at Edge Hill University.
Though they took different paths, they supported each other along the way and Mr Jewell said qualifying together had been an immense source of pride.
He said training at the same time – sometimes on the same placements – was “surreal”.
“I’m so proud of her, I’m so proud of both of us,” he told Nursing Times.
“Going from sitting in a bedsit, unemployed, to being a registered nurse – it’s a bit strange. Stevie and I were both students at the same time, and she qualified three weeks before.
“She came in with the uniform when I was still technically a trainee, and told me: ‘I outrank you now, Dad’. She was on the night shift when I got my [PIN] and we got a picture together.
“To think, both of us here from where we came from – it’s where we want to be in life.”
As well as the photo of the two being a heartwarming moment, Mr Jewell said qualifying as a mental health nurse had a special significance.
After a traumatic childhood and adolescence, Mr Jewell experienced depression, anxiety and other mental health difficulties.
He left school at 14 with few qualifications or prospects, and said he spent the next two decades working jobs he hated.
“I was wondering aimlessly through life, no job satisfaction, I’d dread going to work the next day,” he recalled.
“Always been a manual worker, warehouses, just like really low paid jobs.”
Mr Jewell said that, around eight years ago, he was experiencing a particularly acute bout of poor mental health, and a positive experience with mental health care professionals made him first consider going into care.
“I did my placement in psychiatric intensive care, and it was the best experience of my life”
This, mixed with experiences his wife – a registered nurse – shared with him, led him to apply for work as a healthcare assistant (HCA) and then pursue the apprentice route to registration.
“I wanted a change,” he continued. “I wasn’t satisfied working nights in a bed warehouse, working at a butcher.
“I started as an HCA at my local hospital and absolutely loved it, never did care before.”
Having been based in a general hospital as a HCA, Mr Jewell said the first time he stepped into a mental health hospital for his apprenticeship was “scary” initially.
“Locked doors, like airlocks, and I thought, ‘What am I doing here?,” he said.
“But I did my placement in psychiatric intensive care, and it was the best experience of my life.
“Being on the ward, talking to patients, learning about their history, the families and what they were like when they were well and helping them get back to that.”
Mr Jewell’s daughter had been planning to study adult nursing but was inspired by her father to change her direction.
“Stevie-Leigh was originally going to do general nursing because my wife was,” he said.
“She worked in a general hospital as an HCA at first, but when I started at a mental health trust I told my daughter about it, she said she liked the idea of it – she was under child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) when she was younger.
“She had a wobble after year one after poor placements, but stuck to it.”
Mr Jewell said he hoped his widely-shared social media post would show people that it is never too late to consider taking on nursing.
“I don’t believe in ‘too old’, or ‘not enough intelligence or ability’,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any care experience, if you can help someone, you can do nursing. It’s about listening to people.
“There’s support out there, there are apprenticeships, and at the end you have a career for life.
“It took me a year longer [than Stevie-Leigh], but we both got there and are where we want to be in life.”