Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
If you’re a real people person we would love you to join us
Sam explains how the special role of a carer is fulfilling and fun
When Ben Allardyce graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in media and history of art, he was adamant he didn’t want to work in a stuffy gallery.
Rather than an environment in which aficionados share their appreciation of art in hushed tones, Ben had his sights set on an energetic, vibrant workplace where he could express his creativity and use it to enrich the lives of others.
During his studies, Ben, of Coatbridge, had a part-time job as a support worker with a private firm – a role that was funded by North Lanarkshire Council.
As a graduate who was unclear about the direction in which he wanted to take his career, Ben kept returning to the positive experience he had of supporting a person with a disability, and the sense of worth and satisfaction it had given him.
That’s what prompted him to successfully apply for the fulltime role of support worker at Touchbase Lanarkshire – a fully accessible base for people with communication support needs.
Ben, 22, works at the Sense Scotland hub in Hamilton, which has art and music rooms, sensory and quiet rooms, a gym with a sunken trampoline, and a kitchen, as well as an events space which hosts various activities, including storytelling and cinema nights.
He supports various people throughout the week at the day service, by discovering what they’d like to do and supporting them to get out and about, socialise and participate in activities of interest.
A former pupil of St Andrew’s High School in Old Monkland, Ben begins his working day by greeting everyone as they arrive, and preparing them for the day ahead.
“I’ve been doing a lot of art activities, basing them on people’s needs and what they are looking for,” explained Ben, who also has responsibilities for members’ medication and personal care.
Recently, he has been working on an art project in which day service users create characters of themselves based on hit cartoon The Simpsons.
In recent weeks, Ben – who has been in post for four months – has taken his art projects out into the Touchbase gardens, where participants can let their creative juices flow and socialise in a natural, lush, fully accessible environment in the open air.
“It’s all about building on people’s interests and needs, and it’s always good when I get a great reaction,” he explained.
“No two days are the same. It gives a sense of purpose. It makes you feel good, but at the same time, you know you are helping other people. You are working with so many different people from so many different backgrounds.
“It’s rewarding being able to match up your own personal interests with the people you support.”
Ben says job seekers who are considering carving a new career for themselves within a care setting need to have a genuine interest in the people they support.
Through Sense Scotland, they will be given full training, and will also learn by bouncing ideas around with a team of supportive colleagues within the hub, some of whom have more than 20 years’ experience.
“You need to be caring and patient,” said Ben. “It is about what you bring to the role. You need to want to learn about different people, their interests and skills.
“In the day centre environment, you need to be really upbeat, and having a positive attitude is a really important thing.”
Fun is the buzz word at Touchbase Lanarkshire.
Members like Andrew get huge enjoyment out of games of “eyebrow-off ” with Ben – just like a dance-off, but with your eyebrows.
“You need to have a sense of humour, for sure,” said Ben.
“No-one is sitting in here with a frown. We always get a laugh out of the guys by getting to know their wee quirks and playing on that. If you are ready to be a goof-ball and throw yourself into the deep end, I think you will be really successful.”
Just like Ben, Sam Taylor joined Sense Scotland at a young age at the end of her studies.
She has worked her way up through the ranks from a student placement in day services in 1999, to a support worker with children’s respite services, to senior support worker and team leader. Sam was then promoted to registered manager with Touchbase, and
moved to Blantyre Short Breaks in 2015. There, she and her 20 colleagues work from a seven-bedded converted house over two levels that’s adapted to the needs of their guests.
Providing short breaks to people aged over 18, Blantyre Short Breaks opened over 15 years ago and is an essential service for people with disabilities and their families and carers. The service allows the people Sense Scotland supports to have a break to look forward to – whether that’s a quiet few days or a full-on social whirlwind of activities.
Breaks also give families and carers much-needed breathing space – most of the time just to catch up on their
sleep and give the people they care for time to spend with their friends.
“A lot of the individuals we see at Short Breaks know each other from day centres, community groups and clubs,” explained Sam. Some of them have been pals for 10, 20, 30 years or more, so it gives a good opportunity for people to come together. We work really hard to ensure that friends are able to stay together at the same time.”
Facilities include the downstairs rooms where guests have their own private terrace and access to the sensory garden. There, they can enjoy sitting quietly, or gathering around the barbecue.
“I like to plan my day and be
organised,” continued Sam, who is proud to have worked with Sense Scotland her entire adult working life.
“I go around, saying hello to everybody who is here, making sure everyone is okay and happy, that the staff are okay. I have a wee chit-chat so that I’m not just the person in the office.
“I just love people – whether it is the team or the people who come here for respite. If they have a good time, a great experience and go home happy and rested, that is the biggest thing – and knowing that the families have had a break as well, and have had time to sleep and recover.”
As she aims to fill a number of support worker vacancies within
Blantyre Short Breaks, Sam is seeking recruits who are kind and positive and love to spend time with other people.
“To anyone considering joining us, my advice would be that you have to be a people person,” she said.
“You have to want to be with people, and that can be very intense. You have to make sure you can put yourself in that situation. You also need to have a flexible and fun approach to life.
“I love working for Sense Scotland and that’s evident, because I’ve been here for so long. There has been a clear career path for me here. The opportunities have been fantastic.”
Sense Scotland is currently seeking to fill the following roles:
■ 29 hours permanent contract in Coatbridge.
■ 20 hours permanent nightshift in Coatbridge.
■ 9.5 hours,11.5 hours and relief evening/weekend contracts in Coatbridge.
■ 30 hours permanent contract in Touchbase Lanarkshire (Hamilton).
■ 30 hours maternity cover at Blantyre Short Breaks.
■ 23 hours permanent nightshift at Blantyre Short Breaks.
To find out more, contact the Sense Scotland recruitment team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 0300 330 9292 or visiting its Sensescotlandjobs Facebook page.