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A rewarding role for April: What it's like to be a support worker

By Heather Large | Entertainment | Published:

When April Hall was made redundant from an unfulfilling job opening letters at a mail support office it gave her the chance to finally pursue her dream career.

April Hall provides one-to-one support for vulnerable adults

And now she knows she is making a difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities in her role as a support worker.

She had always believed working in social care would be out of her reach as she didn’t think she would have the necessary skills.

But after doing some research, the 35-year-old, from Telford, was happy to discover that she was able to apply for the rewarding role she had always wanted.

April is now dedicated to helping people with learning disabilities – and her only regret is that she didn’t decide to take the plunge and change careers sooner.

“I always used to see people in the town centre supporting others, and would be in such admiration of them. But I didn’t think it was possible for me to get a job in social care because I didn’t do very well in school," she says.

“If I’d have known it was possible 10 years ago, it wouldn’t have taken me so long to become a support worker.

“Getting a job in social care changed my life. Not only has it enabled me to get qualifications, but it’s given me a depth in my life that I never thought I’d have, and a fulfilment that I never thought I’d get from a job."

For the past two-and-a-half years, April has been working for Dimensions, a not-for-profit organisation which supports people with learning disabilities, autism, challenging behaviour and complex needs.

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She provides one-to-one support to 14 people, ranging in age from those in their late-teens to those in their 50s, in Telford.

Rainbows painted on the windows at Dimensions

April is on hand to help with a broad range of day-to-day tasks such as cooking and cleaning as well as shopping and socialising.

“It’s a privilege being around the people I support. There’s always going to be tough days, but there’s a lot more good days, happiness and laughs. It’s amazing to be able to help people become more independent, and seeing how much they gain from it,” she says.

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Her role also includes organising fun day trips to destinations such as Blackpool Illuminations and Barmouth beach.

At the moment outings are on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak and April says it has meant “thinking outside the box” to replace these with indoor activities.

She has also been helping the people she looks after to cope with the difficult circumstances and making sure they know how to stay safe.

It’s also important to check that they are not worried or scared by what is going on in the world at the moment and to reassure them if they do have any fears or are concerned by anything they have read, April explains.

One way to do this is by staying positive herself, she tells Weekend. She also helps the people she’s looking after see through theories they may have seen being shared on social media by “myth-busting”.

They’ve also been helping to spread hope during the coronavirus outbreak by covering their building in Telford with pictures of rainbows.

Their colourful pictures have become a way to provide positivity up and down the country since the crisis began.

April, who has undergone training including earning a Level 3 NVQ qualification in health and social care for supporting people with learning disabilities, says the best thing about her job is spending time with the people she is supporting each day.

“They are so sweet, kind and caring. I love hanging out with them and supporting them and being that one person in their life that they know they can rely on,” she tells Weekend.

April is helping people to stay positive

One of the proudest moments of her social care career so far was supporting a lady to take a trip to Disneyland Paris.

The lady had never travelled abroad before and the trip took a huge amount of planning, including designing a way to communicate in crowds, preparing for the experience of flying, and making sure each day had an organised structure.

“The holiday meant more to the lady I supported than anyone could imagine. She loved and relished every second she was there, got pictures with lots of her favourite characters and saw everything she wanted to see.

“Mostly it was a mark of her growth and confidence she has gained through the support she has received from Dimensions,” April explains.

She is extremely grateful that she found her dream career in support work and wants to encourage more people into social care roles.

And April believes that once the coronavirus crisis has lifted, people will want to continue to look out for each other and helping their community.

“I couldn’t recommend it more highly. I know every day I’m making a difference,” she tells Weekend.

Anyone who is interested in following in April’s footsteps can find out more about social care roles with Dimensions by calling 0300 303 9019 or emailing resourcing@dimensions-uk.org

Further details about current vacancies can also be found at www.dimensions-uk.org/careers

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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