By the age of 16, I had already decided to pursue a career in hospitality. I chose to study it in college but after a few years I realised that it just wasn’t the right profession for me. Following the guidance of a career advisor, I enrolled onto the Prince’s Trust twelve-week programme in Llanelli which opened up the plethora of other pathways and career choices that were available to me.
It also gave me the opportunity to gain work experience with Camp America. I flew to New York and spent a summer working at a holiday camp, supporting people with learning disabilities. I loved it so much, I returned each summer for four consecutive years! I honestly felt like I’d finally found joy and purpose in my work. Outside of the summer months, I chose to study Social Welfare in University and worked part-time as a community carer. I thoroughly enjoyed this role, where my employer also supported me in gaining a level 2 qualification in Health and Social Care.
When my time at university came to an end, the local authority employed me to support the launch and day-to-day running of a mobile day club. Initially a six-month contract, I actually remained working here for three years; during this time, I gained my level 3 qualification in Health and Social Care and was promoted to supervisor. I eventually became the manager of a variety of services – day centres, luncheon clubs, meals on wheels – all the while being supported by the local authority, even gaining my level 4 qualification in Health and Social Care.
With social care services evolving and changing over time, I sought a new opportunity for a role that would allow me to share my existing knowledge and develop my skills. I joined the talented team at Shared Lives, a programme that places adults with a learning disability or mental health condition with families who can offer them support – either on a daily basis, short-term break or longer-term. Here, I was fortunate enough to continue with my personal development and obtained the QCF Advanced Practitioner qualification.
There are many different ways and opportunities for people to become involved in social care and finding the right career path is so rewarding. The support I’ve received to further my education throughout my career has also been incredible. The team I work with is like a family; we support and look after each other.