I have worked for the Company for a number of years at one of our Children’s homes. I left school with few qualifications and no clear idea as to what I wanted to do for a career. I ended up working in the building trade.
The firm I worked for went bankrupt and a mate from the gym suggested that I do some casual work at the children’s home where he worked. I remember on my first shift I was asked to take a group of lads on the beach to play football and I remember thinking this was great – being paid to play football and having a laugh with some good kids. It was only after we returned to the Home and one of the lads wanted to punch me for being a Man United fan did I begin to realise quite what the job entailed. Despite that initial shock to the system I continued as a casual for 4 months before a permanent position became available and I realised that this was what I wanted to do and I finally had a career. During the early months I received lots of formal training and on the job support and it was a steep learning curve but at the same time it was immensely satisfying to work with these kids and the best thing was getting to know and understand them as people.
A Children’s Home is a large house where children and young people live together as a group, with professional staff to look after them. Children’s Homes aim to ensure that the needs of children are met when they cannot live with their own family. They are a place for children to develop and grow, as well as providing food, shelter, and space for play and leisure in a caring environment. Children’s Homes look after children with many different needs.
Few children or young people choose to become looked after. A high percentage enter the care system as a result of abuse or neglect, but even these children and young people usually continue to love their families and want to remain with them. Whilst many remain in the care system only for brief periods, a considerable number spend a significant proportion of their childhood living in care – it was quickly impressed upon me that it might be my place of work but for the young people I was entering their home where they lived.
After two years I was promoted to a Team Leader and then just four years later after when I had gained my management qualification I was able to apply to become a Registered Manager – a job I have held for nearly ten years! Why have I stayed so long? Being able to work as a team is a significant factor affecting people’s experience of the job. In Hexagon I have always had support, including from other managers and senior managers, which is an important source of job satisfaction, as is being able to observe the progress of the young people themselves. I have always encouraged our young people to have a self-worth and to discover a talent. This improves their self-confidence, provided a focus, sometimes gave a special role or place within a care setting and often provided a new social network. Achievement also supported the child to participate in other opportunities.
Not only has working with our young people given me a defined career, it has also provided me with a sense of vocation. There is no greater job satisfaction than travelling with a young person on a journey from when they first join the Home as an often scared, vulnerable adolescent to their leaving care as a confident, mature young adult fully equipped for the transition into independent living.