Sharan, who joined Affinity Trust in 2016, works as part of a large staff team supporting people with learning disabilities and autism in Cheadle in Staffordshire.
How long have you been working in the social care sector?
I’ve been at Affinity Trust for over three years, but have worked in the sector for 17 years. Before that I was working at Royal Doulton but got made redundant. It was all I had known workwise, but luckily a friend told me about working in the care sector and I’ve never looked back.
I wouldn’t consider working anywhere else now. I’ve found where I’m happy and, when you love your job, it really shows. You are happy in yourself and this can be seen by others.
What have been some of the main highlights of your time with us?
If I can make someone laugh or smile, then I can go home and know that I’ve made a difference to someone’s day. We are in someone’s home at the end of the day, we are invited in and we aim to do as much as we possibly can to help them to achieve their goals whatever they may be.
The more time that you are in the role, the more and more you get out of it. You get to know the people you are supporting and what activities they like to do. Even if you aren’t working directly with one of them on a certain day, you still see them in the home and are a part of their lives.
In our Refer a Friend scheme, our staff can earn from £100 to £400 per referral. There’s no limit to the number of referrals they can make so they can keep on earning extra cash! We trust our staff to refer great people, just like them, so we don’t hold back payment until after a probationary period. If a staff member refers someone who is hired, we will make payment within a month.
Who did you refer via the Refer a Friend scheme and how did you find the process?
I actually referred mainly colleagues who I had worked with in another company. We all knew each other well and had worked well as a team before. Even after I had left, they would see me and the people I support out and about in the community, so we were always in touch and it wasn’t difficult to encourage them to make the move.
Another person was a friend of my cousin. She hadn’t worked in the sector before but I told her that it was the best place to work as we were given the time as a team to provide the one-to-one support needed. We’re very lucky as our managers are really on the ball and always accessible. If we need advice they are there to talk and we can always go and see them.
The process itself is simple enough but it’s you that needs to make it work. When I joined the sector I was so looked after, someone really took me under their wing as the expression goes and it gave me confidence. This is the approach I now take and always try to do this when others join us.
It’s fantastic you were able to earn money for your referrals; do you mind telling us what you spent it on?
It was great timing actually as I got the money just before Christmas. It really came in handy, as you can imagine, and I still have a little left over for a rainy day! I also became a great-aunt in November so it was nice to be able to spoil my new niece!
What advice would you give to others considering getting into support work?
The role is always so varied; we are off to the circus this weekend! Teamwork is really key, we are one team and we all do whatever we can to make sure that the people we are supporting get the best out of life. We’re mindful of the cost of things too so you do need to be creative at times and go out of your way to find the best activities to get involved in.