I joined Partners in support six months ago. I had no previous experience of support work, but I had been interested in the role for some time (and I now wish I had taken it up sooner in my working life). I phoned Partners one day to make an enquiry and explain that I would love to work in the sector, and maybe see if I could send my c.v over. I ended up having a 40 minute conversation that made me even more interested in the role, and I was invited to attend an interview that would take a place a few weeks later. The interview was friendly and challenging, and I learned so much more about what the role of a support worker entailed. By the end of the interview, I was absolutely desperate to get the job.

After getting the good news, meet and greets were set up with the two gentlemen I would be supporting, if they were happy with that. They are now two of my favourite people in the world. I couldn’t have been happier with how each meeting went, and got the seal of approval from each of them. A stretch of shadow shifts followed. All of my new colleagues were so welcoming and eager to show me the ropes and watching their interactions and the individual way they each approached support work taught me a huge amount. Crucially, getting to know the guys without shouldering 100% of the responsibility was really beneficial for all of us. As much as I was enjoying the shadow shifts, I couldn’t wait to get officially started.

My shift usually starts in the afternoon and having a chat with whoever I am supporting is the first part of my working day. I’ll ask them how they are and what they have been up to during the day and find out what we will be getting up to that afternoon. Before we can get on with any activities, a handover must be carried out with my colleague. We will double check the days financial and medical records, medicine stock, money tins, and ensure that the keys are not about to walk out of the door with them (very important!) They will let me know how the previous shift has gone and if there is anything significant to tell me, as well as giving me an overview of how the person we support has been behaving and if there is anything I should be keeping an extra close eye on.

Following that, it’s time to start my shift. The activities vary greatly. I could be driving them to collage, taking them to a trampoline lesson, having a kick-about in the park, watching trains come and go at the station, going to the gym, doing a weekly food shop, going on a long walk, or meeting up with friends for a meal. That just scratches the surface, to be honest! When out in the community, the support needed varies greatly. I need to be the eyes and ears when it comes to road safety and other hazards and I also need to be constantly evaluating the environment for anything that could potentially cause anxiety or trigger a negative response. If they are buying something in a shop I will support them by encouraging them to handle the transaction themselves, or reassure them that they will be served soon if there is a queue and praise them for being so patient.

Following the afternoon’s activities, we return home. I have learnt that when it comes to jobs around the house, my role as a support worker is to assist. If we are preparing food, their contribution may be to get out a plate or stir something in a pan, or it may be that they are involved in almost every aspect of the task. It’s my job to fill in the gaps, whatever the size, and to offer encouragement, motivation and support.

If there are no plans for the evening, we will spend the night at home. I will support with any jobs that need to be done around the house, administer medication if needed, and support with any personal care required. This is a nice time to spend together as there are no time constraints or activities. Like in most households, we can relax, chat, and unwind a little together. I still have paperwork to complete before I turn in for the night and I will double-check everything that is planned for the following day and make sure everything is prepared.

We begin the next day with breakfast, personal care, and any administering of meds before heading out for the day’s activities.

I love what I do. It is the most challenging and satisfying job I have ever had. I always look forward to work and that’s down to the people I support. This job has its moments, of course, but I came into it with my eyes open. Helping to support someone to become more engaged and involved in their own life and to develop new skills and progress is an enormous privilege. I still have a huge amount to learn and I look forward to it.