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Working behind a bar? Working in a shop? Waitressing? These were the kind of jobs that I was applying for when I first arrived as a Fresher in Lancaster two years ago. I wanted something that paid, not necessarily something I would enjoy. I wanted something to merely fill my CV. Never did I imagine that I would find such a rewarding job as I have now. As a Student Support Worker at Beaumont College, which is run by the charity Scope, I care for young adults with disabilities, helping them with their basic needs and supporting them to become as independent as possible. Over the past year, I have watched students grow and develop, with some eventually moving into independent living.
In truth, after receiving the news I had got the job, I was incredibly nervous to start work. Unfortunately, for many people (including myself at one point) the thought of working with people with disabilities is terrifying. Delving into the unknown, working with some of the most vulnerable people with the most complex needs is nerve-wracking. However, having spent over a year working at Beaumont College, I could not imagine myself working anywhere else. I not only look forward to work, but I can leave after a shift knowing that I have made a difference. The rewards you can gain from a job in care do not compare to conventional part-time jobs.
My perspective on certain things has changed since becoming a Support Worker. Now that I have witnessed how challenging simple, everyday tasks can be for some people, I try not to take these for granted. I support some students with tasks as simple as eating and drinking – something which most of us are able to carry out independently, without aid. Other students are unable to communicate their thoughts easily, and therefore their preferences, wants and needs are sometimes overlooked, and this can be very frustrating for the students. At Beaumont, we work with each individual student to aid him or her in developing their communication skills, even if they are non-verbal. It is especially rewarding for me to have the opportunity to help students find the best ways to express themselves.
When I began my role as a Support Worker, I was not aware of the skills that I would gain in my job. As a third year student, it is important to start thinking about possible careers after university, which all begins with the tedious job of compiling a CV. Now that I have this experience, my CV has come to life, displaying various transferable skills that could not be acquired in many other jobs. The training that I have undertaken displays my commitment to helping others – a quality which shines on any CV. However, the impact that the skills I have gained have had on my CV is simply a bonus to what I have seen, learnt, and experienced whilst working with people with disabilities.
I believe that any kind-hearted individual with an interest in helping others should push their boundaries and look into working with people with disabilities. As cliché as it may sound, it’s a life changing experience.