I started in 1996 on the Isle of Wight at the Appley Cliff service. I worked twilight shifts, three evenings a week as a support worker for three years. People would say to me: ‘You’re so lucky to work for Leonard Cheshire, he’s a lovely man.’ A few would say: ‘Not many people get a job with Leonard Cheshire.’ So I did feel very lucky, but also very humbled.
I was actually the first support worker on the island to get up to a NVQ level 3 qualification. I moved to the local council for a few years to get managerial experience, but once I had it I was back at Leonard Cheshire Disability as a coordinator of care, and then became a service manager. My next move was to our Dorset Learning Disability Services, covering a maternity leave. I intended to go back to the Isle of Wight after this, but at the last minute the charity asked me to support the manager of Wiltshire Care at Home. I was there for two and a half years, before moving onto Greathouse.
At Greathouse, no two days are the same; the people there always surprise me. We’ve got one lady who wanted to climb the O2 Centre and another who has fundraised by sitting in a shower trolley of baked beans, rice and spaghetti. Since 2016 we’ve had our pet pygmy goats too. They make everyone go outside more; the residents help to feed them and care for them, and do this with family and friends when they visit.
The team I have at Greathouse makes me feel very lucky. In 2016 I won the charity’s staff award for inspirational manager. At first I thought, ‘Why me?’, but it’s because I’ve been given the opportunities to do so much by the team I have around me. They have so many ideas.
At Greathouse and across all the services I’ve been at, Leonard Cheshire means care that’s all about the person not the task. It’s about giving personal attention and quality of life to people. That’s where I believe Leonard Cheshire himself started from.
Leonard Cheshire means care that’s all about the person not the task.