Part six in a series exploring my work history, revealing how I ended up working in a library. This post: being a Support Worker with young adults.
This is a difficult one to write about. After I left the call centre, I spent six months supporting young adults with learning difficulties, who were living together in a house run by a national charity. This wasn’t a random job that I had suddenly leaped into; once a week, for the previous six years, I had volunteered with a youth group for teenagers with learning difficulties, so I had a lot of experience in this field, including acting as support worker during residential trips. I had decided to try to find a job doing something that I had been passionate about, rather than aimlessly applying for whatever job came along. Working in the care industry, I thought, would make the most of my relevant experience, provide opportunities for training and give me a job that I was motivated to do. In other words, it ticked all the right boxes. I left the call centre at Christmas, and started my new job in January, so it felt like a fresh start.
What I hadn’t thought about was the vast differences there were between volunteering as a support worker with a group young people that I had got to know over a period of six years, and working with just two or three residents that I saw almost everyday. Volunteering had been fun and rewarding, whereas working full-time in someone’s home just wasn’t the same. It was like being paid to be a parent, really; I did cleaning, laundry, food shopping, prepared meals, provided varying levels of support to the residents, and even slept at work a couple of times a week when I was required to work a night shift (the residents were not allowed to be left unsupervised at any time). I much preferred this to working in an office, but I missed the social side of working with a variety of colleagues.
Due to confidentiality, I’m unable to go into specifics about the residents I worked with. What I can say, is that there was a great deal of conflict between the residents I worked with, and also between the other members of staff; it was not a harmonious workplace. However, I still felt somewhat guilty at resigning after only six months on the job, but an opportunity had come up that was simply too good to turn down; I was about to go on a life changing adventure. What I learned from this experience: volunteering is one thing, being employed within the same field is entirely different.
Part seven to follow.