Across the UK thousands of dedicated people are care or support workers, who do their job feeling at the end of a day that they have made a real difference to someone else’s quality of life. They don’t do this for the money but because it’s a vocation – “a person’s employment or main occupation, especially regarded as worthy and requiring dedication”.
Just one of the many vocational elements of being a support worker with SIL’s Independent Living at Home service, is encouraging and enabling our service users to be part of their community. This can give them a sense of belonging, purpose, and identity, which helps make their lives more fulfilling. It also develops a greater understanding of disability within the wider community, and nurtures new friendships.
One such friendship has developed between SIL service user Andrew and the people of Ross-on-Wye Car Boot. This relationship was witnessed first hand one day when Team Leader Clayton went with Andrew to Ross Car Boot sale. This was a journey of exploration, pure joy and excitement for Andrew, who systematically hit each stall or pitch looking for collectables.
15 minutes later Andrew surprised Clayton by smiling and telling Clayton to follow him. Then Andrew vanished into a culinary Tardis, and stood triumphantly at the counter. Andrew had jumped to the front of the queue, without any protests from the waiting patrons, and to Clayton’s surprise a member of the catering team asked Andrew what he would like. Andrew replied with such speed and excitement, “A sausage sandwich and a drink’, followed by “How much do I owe you?”
“The same as last week”, came the reply, after which Andrew sat down and waited for his order. After he had finished he said goodbye and left – without paying.
Clayton called after Andrew, but before he could say anything the member of staff interjected with, “He doesn’t need to pay, and neither do you!” The member of staff then thanked Clayton for “being the salt of the earth”, before Andrew dragged him off for a second lap of the stalls.
It is these small acts of kindness and the understanding shown by so many people that makes care and support work so rewarding. It is also these gestures that demonstrate how people with disabilities can be a part of their local communities.
So, for anyone who is reading this who isn’t sure if care work is for them this message is from Clayton:
“When you are tired from a 24-hour shift where you never sleep soundly; or feeding horses in all weathers; going on bike rides; trying to solve 5,000,000-million-piece jigsaws; administering vital medication; supporting someone through a seizure; or supporting someone to eat, or taking care of their personal hygiene, it doesn’t matter if we are not given the recognition by governments past, present or future. What’s important is that we are appreciated by those who truly count – the people we support and the communities they live in, and sometimes that comes in all shapes and sizes.”