Everything you need to know about pursuing a career as a support worker

mentally handicapped and disabled woman and a caregiver looking at cucumbers in a raised bed, both h

The Edmund Trust provides a range of services to support people with learning difficulties and autism. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

There are very few paths in life that bring as much joy and contentment as being a support worker for those in need. 

The Edmund Trust in Cambridge provides a wide range of services that help people with learning difficulties and autism develop, flourish and live as independently as possible.  

Lisa Yearn, head of operations at the Edmund Trust, explains: “Helping someone to grow and live as independently as they possibly can is such a privilege – there’s nothing more rewarding than watching someone overcome challenges and grow in confidence.” 

We sit down with Lisa to learn all about the services that staff and volunteers provide, the skills and qualifications available and how support workers make a difference in the community. 

Downs Syndrome Man Sitting With Home Tutor Using Laptop For Lesson At Home

Support workers can assist people with finances, paying bills and other tasks. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Q: What are the major services that the Edmund Trust provides? 

A: There are four main areas in which our services are divided: supported living, the respite service, the residential service and community support. They each provide a different yet essential part of ensuring that people with autism and learning difficulties receive the support that they need. We also have a section called Eddie's - a major part of our service that provides day care, drama groups, befriending and autism keyworkers for the community. 

For example, community support is where someone lives in their own home or with family and may have a level of independence. The amount of support required may vary from two hours per week to 50 depending on the person and the responsibilities. We assist with budgeting, cooking meals and helping to set up bills.  

The residential service that we provide for people with profound difficulties consists of two care homes with a number of full-time residents. We encourage them to learn new skills, such as gardening and cooking. The ethos that runs throughout all of our services is based on person-centred care – listening to the needs of each individual and helping them to achieve their goals. 

Q: What are the day-to-day responsibilities of a support worker? 

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A: No two days feel the same when you’re a support worker. Depending on the specific service, you may be helping someone to make their breakfast and get ready for the day ahead, followed by a trip into town for a coffee or a walk around the market.  

On other days, someone might want to take part in an activity such as crazy golf or head out shopping for the very first time. Giving people the opportunity to do the things they want to do is central to our philosophy and by organising their own day as much as possible, they develop the essential skills to live an independent life. 

Kind mother helping her son doing homework in kitchen. Mother Helping Son With Homework At Table. Ch

Support workers help people to build their self-confidence and achieve their own goals. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Q: What qualifications and career pathways are available to staff? 

A: As well as supporting the people under our direct care, we aim to provide every opportunity for our support workers to progress. Alongside our mandatory annual training, we can support our staff with gaining a diploma in Health and Social Care and starting apprenticeships.  

In our Future Leaders programme, staff can learn all about the senior roles available within the Trust and the responsibilities that come with them. It’s a fantastic way for those interested in progression to work their way up – however, support workers will always remain our most vital role.  

Q: What are the most rewarding aspects of being a support worker? 

A: Watching someone grow as a person and move on to the next stage of their lives is genuinely such a pleasure and privilege. Making those connections and celebrating their achievements with them is a real joy - whether it’s moving to their own place or having the confidence to buy something themselves at a shop counter for the first time. Knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life is so invaluable.  

As well as supporting the individuals who require direct care, it’s wonderful to be able to provide our respite service to their families. By enabling them to take some time off or pursue their own interests for a period of time, our support workers and volunteers ensure that everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing is cared for. 

To learn more about the opportunities available at the Edmund Trust, visit edmundtrust.org.uk or call 01223 883130.