I was a printer for 16 years, then I was made redundant in 2007. I had three young kids to bring up. I didn’t want to work shifts because my kids were more important and I wanted to be at home with them when they were little. So I looked into caring in general and spotted a role with Sense as a Support Worker.
It was just down the road from where I lived. I was really lucky because it was Monday to Friday (very rare for this type of work) with no shifts. It was perfect and luckily I got the job, they took the chance, and here I am ten years later in an incredibly rewarding career.
I’d never done this kind of work before, I thought, it’s going to be absolute mayhem, and it’s not.
At first I’d expected it to be really structured like school, but we’re developing skills for life, like making a cup of tea. We’re working on skills that people can actually use, and it’s so important to be flexible.
At first it was tough coming from my background in print where you couldn’t stop for a cough, because I felt, I’m just sitting here doing nothing. But you’re not, you know, you’re looking at people, you’re observing, you’re seeing patterns in behaviour.
In this line of work, general life experience goes a long way. If you’re a caring person, and certainly if you’ve had kids and you know how to look after people, that’s a good grounding for a start. There are always people that will back you up who’ve been in the job years, so you are never left on your own.
Learning to be a Support Worker, I started out by shadowing people. There was loads of training too. And there are always people that will help you out. It’s quite a relaxed atmosphere, so I never felt threatened or thrown in the deep end.
Support is about observing, thinking and persevering. You’ve got to give people a chance to go out and try a normal life, whatever ‘normal’ may be. If something happens that upsets the person you’re supporting, you find out why it happened and then think right, how can we avoid that next time. Next time we’ll go somewhere a bit quieter or we’ll go somewhere a little bit bigger. Whatever. And you try and narrow it down to suit the person.
Now I’m a Team Leader. I’ve been in the new role for a little over two years ago. I’ve just completed a leadership certificate. The next step is hopefully management. It would be amazing to be managing a Sense Centre. Sense also have supported accommodation in the community locally, and roles like Deputy Manager, Manager and so forth are all possibilities from here. So there’s always scope for me to improve or to move up the ladder a bit. It’s encouraged as well, so it’s great in that respect.
I’m really excited about what the future holds with Sense.
There are a range of job opportunities, including Support Worker roles, available at Sense. Visit the Sense Jobs website to discover job opportunities in your area.