James, aged 23, is the team manager of Eden Futures’ supported living services in Warrington and Chorley in the north-west of England. He’s responsible for 45 staff members who support 15-20 people with mental ill-health and learning disabilities.
He joined in 2019 as a support worker for Eden’s services in Preston and Bamber Bridge, just before the UK was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite having no background or knowledge of health and social care work at the time, it’s not prevented him progressing in his career with the help, support and guidance of the Eden Futures team, as he explains:
“Before I worked here, I honestly didn’t know that this kind of work, to care for and support people with mental health issues, autism or learning disabilities, even existed. This may sound naïve but I’m still quite young, I’d only had one job in a completely different sector and this job just didn’t occur to me. Often, you only know about the existence of health and social care services if you have a family member that needs a level of support.
“I’d started my working life as an industrial gas engineer, but after experiencing some health issues I was advised by medics to find an alternative long-term career that didn’t require manual work. So, I looked around and applied to Eden as a support worker and got the job, starting in Preston and Bamber Bridge!
“I was well trained during my induction through a mixture of online and modular programmes, shadowing shifts and on-the-job assessment before starting work. During Covid I transferred to Chorley and helped in the Warrington service. It was certainly a challenging time, but we became a very tight knit team in a short space of time, and all supported each other.
“A deputy manager position then came up which I applied for and got it, then later my team manager was promoted to area manager, so I applied for team manager – and was also successful. Each day as a team manager is different but often includes liaising with external stakeholders like social workers and health professionals, talking to relatives and helping our service users, setting staff rotas and supervisions, dealing with referrals, finance, medication checks, competences and training. I also do day and night shifts when I can to support the team and keep my training up to date.
“I absolutely love my job and working for Eden and couldn’t have progressed as well as I have in this relatively short space of time, without the team’s confidence in me and encouragement.”