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Jade Holmes, Senior Support Worker

I used to work in retail, and wanted to do something totally different when my youngest child was quite small. I thought, “I quite fancy getting into the care sector” – I just didn’t know how to do it!

Back then, withYOU was part of Places for People. They had an access to care course, which I signed up for. I really enjoyed it – and 16 years later, I’m still here!

I’ve been in the same service the whole time, supporting people with learning disabilities and neurodiversity. Even although I’ve been working in the same area, the job is really diverse.

Over the years, people move on and new people come in. The service has changed a bit, too. We’re more focused on neurodiversity now, while we used to have an outreach service focused on mental health.

The most rewarding thing is supporting people to achieve their goals and aspirations. 

No matter how small it is, it’s amazing to see our  service users say “I’ve done that.” It’s also really amazing to watch people you’ve supported for years grow and develop. It’s amazing to think about where they started and where they are now. It’s so fulfilling.

Even with the people I line manage, it’s a real achievement to watch them develop their careers. I enjoy mentoring people who are in the position I was in before, and helping them to move forward with whatever they want to do.

There are lots of opportunities to learn and grow at withYOU. I recently completed my SVQ 3, which is an achievement I’m really proud of. As well as our own training, a lot of staff find their own courses that withYOU have the capacity to fund.

While lots of staff are happy in the Support Worker role, they know that we would do everything we can to help them if they want to make a step up. 

Of course, people don’t always have a background in care when they join us. In fact we seem to be getting a lot more people who want a total career change. Even if they’ve never done care work before, it’s obviously their “thing”.

As someone who came into care from a retail background, I love seeing other people make a similar move. We recently had someone start who was previously working in McDonald’s.

It’s about having a caring nature – that’s why people come into this line of work. 

Care has definitely changed since I started my career. Back when I started out, you’d just come in and support people and then go home. Nowadays, you’re encouraged to progress by challenging yourself and becoming more involved. I think that’s a good thing!

I was a Support Worker for 13 years before stepping out of my comfort zone and applying for a Senior Support Worker position. Because I’ve been here for so long, people would always suggest I go for it when Senior posts were advertised.

It was an exciting time for the East Craigs service, and a few of us went for the job. It’s a bit daunting, going for interviews. But I decided that if it’s meant to be it’s meant to be. And thankfully I was successful, and got the job!

To thrive in care, you need to have positive energy and a passion for supporting people. 

Even if you’ve never done this type of work before, you can bring a lot to the role. Your own life skills and experiences are really valuable – especially combined with a caring nature and positive attitude.