Eleanor Claxton - Dietetic Support Worker / Assistant Practitioner

Job title and work location

Ellie ClaxtonMy name is Eleanor Claxton but you can call me Ellie. I am the Joint Secretary as part of the BDA Yorkshire Branch Committee. I am currently a Dietetic Assistant at Leeds Teaching Hospitals. I work in the Head and Neck Oncology and Radiotherapy team. I work cross site between the surgical team and the non-surgical oncology team within the Leeds Teaching Hospitals.

What attracted you initially to volunteer for the BDA?

I joined the BDA Yorkshire branch last year after some encouragement from a friend and fellow committee member. I joined as a way of getting to see dietetics from another angle. When I joined, I was the first DA to ever join the branch so there was some hesitancy as to what a DA role would entail (a bit like the support worker role in general), and I want to change that. I often feel like the role of a DA can be so detached from dietitians, and I hope that I can lead by example in changing that to show that we can work with Dietitians and that there is a place for D.As to feel just as involved.

What do you do in this role?

I am currently the joint secretary for the BDA branch. I do the minute taking and minute writing of our committee meetings and the AGM. I help with the planning and organising of study day events. I tend to help with registration on event days and making sure people know where they are going. I also create the agenda for sponsors and delegates and help recruit sponsors for our events.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

Actually having the courage to join the Yorkshire Branch as a Dietetic Assistant. I feel this has really empowered me to raise the profile of Assistants across Yorkshire and the UK. By being a committee member, this led me to meet a BDA Trade union representative at one of our events and have a discussion about Assistant’s within the BDA, which inspired me to apply for the position of support worker representative on the BDA Council and I actually GOT IT!! So I am very excited to take the role forward and help progress the future for Dietetic Assistants and bring us to the forefront of the BDA council agenda.

Would you recommend volunteering to others?

Definitely!! I absolute love volunteering and its nothing like what I imagined it to be. I also don’t think it is anything like anyone has described it to be either. Volunteering has opened my eyes to so many new things and experiences that I would never have had before getting involved. Such as, sharing my ideas at meetings and not being scared that they are not good enough to be used. I have met some really amazing dietitians. I have also made a great deal of new lifelong friends. I had no idea that there was so much scope for Assistants before I became a volunteer, I just used to pay my BDA membership and that was it. Volunteering has made me truly feel as though I am not just a “D.A” but I am part of something much greater. It’s really driven me to encourage others to join the BDA and boost the profile of Assistants.

Has this role helped your professional development?

I feel as though I am nonstop learning, picking up and developing new skills. Everything I have learnt has been easily transferrable and beneficial to my everyday work and life. It has made me feel much more confident and driven as a person, friend and colleague.