There are lots of different career paths in our Care and Support department, and all of them are rewarding, inspiring and meaningful.
Mazeda, Support Worker
Mazeda is a Support Worker at our day opportunities service in Tower Hamlets.
Mazeda helps older people have fulfilled and stimulating lives and she prevents isolation by organising social activities like arts and crafts, exercise games and trips to the theatre. We asked about her role and how the service has changed since the start of the pandemic.
What’s the best part of your role?
I love getting to work with our customers - each day is different. They really seem to enjoy our support and we develop a bond. When I got back from a two-day holiday, one lady came over and told me she’d missed me. A lot of our customers have dementia, and they really come out of their shells here.
I also enjoy running the activities and taking them out for trips, like to the theatre or park. We take everyone’s opinions and choices into consideration. Recently, one person really wanted to do bingo on a Friday, so we did a session that day. And if anyone isn’t interested in a certain activity, we offer them something else. Over time I’ve come to realise what everyone prefers. I even know what they have for lunch now, because I’m so used to ordering for them.
What changed during the pandemic?
Covid had a massive impact on everyone, but especially on older people, many of whom had to shield for over a year. The Sundial Centre closed during the pandemic so we adapted the way we offered our day opportunities service.
We started going to their homes to check in on their wellbeing, have a chat and deliver lunch, or food supplies – whatever they needed really! This became so popular that we’ve made it a permanent part of our service. Now that there are more options, we also take them out for walks or drives. It’s just nice for them to see a familiar face.
How have the people you support responded?
We’ve received some amazing feedback for the way we’ve adapted our service during the pandemic. This is one of the comments we received:
“My mum has Alzheimer’s and has been going to the centre for over five years. When Covid-19 hit they supported her at home instead, which was a life saver. They visited her every weekday to keep her company and bring her a hot meal. They did her shopping, which was dearly needed, such as pasta, bread, sugar, flour, meat and little treats. As I work in South London it would have been impossible for me to do this.
“Now, Mum has been unable to come back to the centre, as the time spent at home had its toll on her. She no longer walks and very rarely talks, which is part a parcel of her illness. But this hasn’t stopped the centre from working with her. They still bring mum lunch every day and spend precious time with her, keeping her going throughout the day. Mum lights up when she sees them. The staff at the Sundial Centre are very caring, understanding, knowledgeable, helpful and just fantastic. It takes special and dedicated people to do this job. Without them my mum’s life would be a lot different.”
It's so heart-warming to get feedback like this because we tried so hard to make everything work for our customers who was in isolation. When Covid struck we were scared too, and we had to find a different way of working with the customers in their homes and keeping ourselves safe as well as the customers but the people we support always come first.
Now the Centre’s open again, there are lots of new people joining our new day opportunities service. But we’re still providing home visits for anyone can’t come into the centre.
Emmanuel, Support Worker
Emmanuel is a Support Worker in one of our supported housing schemes for people with mental ill health.
“My name is Emmanuel Warrie. I’m a support worker at Southwood Smith Street. It’s a great place to work. We have a good team here.
“The scheme is very young and at the moment we have 12 clients.
“It’s a very rewarding job. Rewarding in terms of seeing people with mental health getting better, but there are times when they recede. It’s all about giving your best on every day you are at work.
“With the clients, we don’t criticise them, we don’t judge them – we’re not judgemental. We take them like our family, because if a member of our family has mental health are we going to chuck them out, are we going to disassociate ourselves with them? No. When they are down we pick them up, dust them off, give them all the necessary support and show them the right direction.
“There are those who are responding quite well and there are those who are just laid back. Even though they are laid back they are still trying their best. The staff are also still trying their best.
“We learn every day from what we are doing here, and that’s why personally I love what I’m doing here. I love my role, I love this job, I love Peabody. And God willing I will continue to do what I’m doing here for a very long time.”
Amy, Senior Support Worker
Amy is a Senior Support Worker in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. She works in a supported housing scheme for people who have disabilities.
“I aim to help our customers have the best quality of life possible. At the moment we’re focused on finding different activities which our customers can take part in at home – due to the pandemic. Some amazing ideas have come about which we’d never have thought of if we were still living in the old way. It’s incredible to see all the different things the customers have been doing due to Covid-19.”
Favourite part of the role
“I love how person-centred Peabody is as a company. It’s all about the customers - which is great. There’s a lot of support provided to the team too, if it’s needed. I love the fact that colleagues are encouraged to go the extra mile to make a difference in someone’s life, and that all ideas are welcomed.”
Why Amy joined Peabody
“I’ve worked in lots of different jobs, including a retail store, a bakery and in a restaurant. These jobs never felt rewarding as I wasn’t making a difference in people’s lives. I’ve been working as a support worker since I was 18 and I’d never look back! The job itself is so rewarding and it’s a great sense of achievement when you’re making such a difference to people’s lives. At Peabody, there’s such great care for our customers and they live such great lives.”
What makes her smile?
“While I’m at work the thing that makes me smile the most is when the customers appreciate what you’ve done for them. Seeing them smile is so rewarding. When I’m at home I love being with my family, I’m always smiling when I am visiting my nieces and nephews. I feel so proud of them.”
“I love to go to raves which I attend with my auntie. A lot of people are shocked by this, but music is a great passion of mine. I have to listen to music every day. It gives me so much motivation and really lifts my spirits.”
Amy’s advice for job applicants
“If you are trying to learn new skills, gain more confidence and better your career, go for it! Since becoming a Senior Support Worker I have learnt so much. I have so many transferrable skills now and I am able to work well using my own initiative as well as still being a part of a team. It is so rewarding and I have come a long way since becoming a Senior Support Worker.”
Rory, Care Support Worker
Do something that feels real”: career advice from a Care Support Worker.
Rory works in one of our supported housing schemes in Chelmsford, Essex. As a Care Support Worker, he supports people with learning disabilities to reach their personal goals and enjoy life to the full. Looking back at his 8-year career, Rory shares some advice for anyone considering a role in care or looking for a fulfilling career.
Why did you become a support worker?
"As a younger man in various other industries, I felt an emptiness: like my work didn't matter, like it was superficial and unfulfilling. I was drawn to support work because the prospect of caring for people felt real - like something that existed at the core of all human experience.
"As I started working in care, I began to feel something real. Eight years on, I know I made the right decision in making a career change."
What do you enjoy most about your role?
"I love being part of customers' lives and helping them make the most of their days. My work matters now, and I know it always will.
"Each day is fresh and a new beginning, and I never feel any dread for the day ahead. I think it’s because I enjoy my role so much. And no day can be taken for granted, as that means taking the people I support for granted."
How do you support one of your customers?
"I’ve been helping John pursue his passion for music. I recently went with him to the shops to support him with buying some CDs.
"Next, I'm planning a trip to Liverpool so that he can have the full Beatles experience. He’s a mega-fan, so we’ll do the Abbey Road crossing, the Cavern Club and the Beatles Museum together. This trip had to be postponed due to Covid, so I’m really looking forward to taking him now that it's possible again.
"One of the day-to-day activities I support John with is cooking. It’s such a joy to help make his favourite meals. The other day we did a roast lunch, including garlic and sage chicken, roast potatoes, parsnips, peas, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower cheese. He loved it. Afterwards he sat outdoors and had a Magnum ice cream.
"When I asked John for some feedback for this blog, he said: “Rory’s a good cook, and I think I could do with a biscuit.” That’s high praise!"
Who would you recommend this career to?
"If you’re a caring person who gets a good feeling when you help someone, I would absolutely recommend a career in care or support. It’s changed my life so much for the better and enabled me to make a difference in the world.
"The person who interviewed me in 2013 told me she 'liked my values'. I remember thinking that could be the most self-affirming thing I'd ever heard.
"Now, I know my values are the reason I have enjoyed my role so much: being kind, doing the right thing, pulling together, keeping promises, celebrating diversity and loving new ideas.
"These values mean I feel excitement and joy for the friends I support, and I cherish my shared experiences with them. They've led me to feel the love that only someone who truly cares can feel. And thanks to my values I continue to feel passion when I’m working with external support partners. Plus, because Peabody recruits people with these values, I get to work in a team of likeminded colleagues who have become like a family.
"I think anyone who shares these values would thrive in a care role."
Steve, Housing Support Worker
Steve is a Housing Support Worker in Basildon, Essex. He works at Tate House, a supported housing scheme for young people who have experienced homelessness.
“I support tenants to complete Universal Credit applications, apply for housing benefits and generally help them to prepare for independent living.”
Favourite part of the role
“I like that there’s no need to wear a shirt and tie. I enjoy lone working and how easy my journey to and from work is. Also, I get to support people to make their lives better.”
Why Steve joined Peabody
“A change in career path brought me here. Many years working in social care finance in Local Government meant I came across the organisation. I was also aware of Peabody from my time working in London and I got a taste of this area when working with social care.”
What makes him smile?
“My favourite joke, I would say, is anything by Tommy Cooper.”
"Going for walks and playing tennis or chess. I also love travelling, especially when beer festivals are involved."
Advice for a job applicant
“Housing Support Workers should have a can-do approach and be willing to understand every customer’s individual needs. You should also be IT literate and ideally have good numeracy and literacy skills, plus good interpersonal skills.”
Angela, Assistant Head of Care
Angela is the Assistant Head of Care for our Learning Disabilities Service in Essex.
“I’m still as enthusiastic about the job now as I was 20 years ago. I’m currently championing co-production at Peabody, and it’s exciting to see it gain momentum. Co-production not only values the opinions and contributions of people with a learning disability, but it gives them real power and autonomy over how the services they receive are shaped.”
Favourite part of the role
“Peabody genuinely value their staff which makes it a great company to work for. Everybody is so friendly and there is always someone there to give advice when needed.
“My motivation is always that tomorrow will be better than today for the people we support. Our customers are the reason I’m here and it’s such a privilege to be part of their journey. I see them grow in confidence and ability despite many challenges, which is so inspiring and a daily reminder that nothing is impossible.
“And our frontline support team are just amazing! They’ve really shone during the lockdowns. Their ability to adapt while still maintaining ‘normality’ for the customers is a testament to their commitment. I’m often in awe of how creative the range of customer experiences are: examples include supporting customers to hatch and then rear pet ducks, supporting customers to keep butterfly gardens where they learnt about and observed caterpillars transform into butterflies, and the opening of ‘shops’ within services.”
Why Angela joined Peabody
“I worked in a council-run elderly care home when I was about 19. When that closed, I started working with people who have learning disabilities. My plan at the time was to join the police, but I loved working in this sector so much that when I enrolled on a two-year college course studying health and social care.
“I’ll have been here 20 years in February, and during this time I’ve held quite a few positions! I’ve been a Support Worker, Supported Housing Manager, Nursing Services Manager, Registered Manager, Deputy Operations Manager and now I’m Assistant Head of Care.”
What makes her smile
“My seven-year-old grandson Lenny. He just melts my heart and can instantly lift my mood.
“I also love any type of DIY—painting and decorating, upcycling furniture, building projects... During lockdown, I learnt the paint pour technique which I used on old furniture. This was a messy process, but the results were fantastic. I also took up painting by numbers, which is a lot harder than you’d think, but very therapeutic.”
Mark is a Caretaker in Essex. He helps us keep the schemes and properties in our Homelessness and Transitions Service in great condition.
“I do lots of different things, from decorating properties to litter picking, doing simple repair jobs, enabling health and safety and supporting external contractors while they go about their work. No two days are the same!”
Favourite part of the role
“I work with a great bunch of people, who are all welcoming and always ready for a laugh. Even in the most difficult times there’s a real sense of camaraderie.
“We’re a small, friendly team and I have complete autonomy over organising and prioritising my work. The variety of work is also a big plus!”
Who would Mark recommend this role to?
“Being a Caretaker at Peabody is a job you can make your own. We are there to support our housing teams and lend a helping hand wherever we can.
“It’s suited to people who love variety, autonomy, getting out and about and fixing things. All our schemes and properties are different and pose unique puzzles for us to solve.
“You don’t need specific knowledge or experience of a trade: just good common sense and DIY skills. I’m always learning how to do new things, even after several years.”
Learning the ropes
“We have lots of independence, but that doesn’t mean we’re without help or support. We’re a friendly bunch and the kettle is always on.
“There is always a Caretaker just a phone call away who will answer your questions, give you tips that have made their life easier or lend a hand. You’ll also get to know the kind people in our housing schemes, who will help you settle in.
“And if there’s something I can’t do, I can ask our contractors to help. We get lots of training around health and safety, fire safety and manual handling too.”
Antony, Team Manager
Antony is a Team Manager in Saffron Walden, Essex. He manages some of our supported housing schemes for people who have disabilities.
“There are so many facets to my role: liaising with other departments on a daily basis, ensuring support for customers and colleagues is always there when needed, and making sure everyone is kept safe, secure, supported and motivated. I work on anything and everything!”
Favourite part of the role
“No two days are the same: there’s always something or someone who needs your input or advice. It’s a challenging role and I have a good team of colleagues who are really supportive - we share ideas and create solutions to issues together. Being collaborative gives us the strength, confidence and insight to work well and achieve more.”
Why Antony joined Peabody
“I joined the organisation in 2009 as a support worker, after having worked as a live-in carer for an agency where I was working around the country. Before that, I worked in the chemical industry as a QC technician and as a store manager for Aldi in Leicestershire.
“Having experienced the live-in carer role, I decided to try something that was similar but more grounded with more scope for development. And I was glad I did, as once I started working here I felt comfortable and enjoyed the variety the job role gave me.
“I became a Team Leader in 2010, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I then moved across the sector to our Young Person Service in Braintree. Later, I returned to the Saffron Walden Services and applied for the Team Manager post, which I have been doing ever since.”
What makes him smile?
“My eldest daughter who is three, pulling my ears and asking me if I am awake at 5am! Also, watching my two children making faces at each other and laughing hysterically.”
“In my spare time, I play the drums in a punk/goth band and we’re in the process of rehearsing to record our third album.”
Antony’s advice for a job applicant
“Peabody is a great organisation to work for and if you have the enthusiasm, motivation and willingness to learn and develop, then this is the role for you.
“It is a very rewarding position and working collaboratively with other departments gives one a better understanding of how the work we do is so important and how we all have a pivotal role no matter what field we choose to work in.
“The role of a team manager is a challenging one, meeting the needs of our customers and colleagues first and foremost. Communication is the key, as it helps us develop, understand and progress as a manager. You will find yourself working with and being supported by lots of different people.”
Billie, Peer Support Worker
Billie is a Peer Support Worker in our Mental Health Service
She uses her own experience to provide empathetic, non-judgemental support. Read more about her personal journey below.
Why should we talk about mental health?
Talking about your mental health is a personal choice. You can say nothing, and try to cope with it on your own, or you can choose to talk to someone. Talking seems like the hardest option, but in reality it’s a much easier path.
A silent struggle means lots of emotions are bottled up, and you will eventually explode from the pressure. It’s much better to get release, by talking about your problems.
You don’t need to talk to people you know either. Internet forums are a great place to anonymously vent, or helplines, or strangers at a support group. Even if you talk to a cat, that’s better than nothing.
Why did you become a Peer Support Worker?
I believe anyone can thrive with the right level of support and the right environment. I’ve managed it, and I want to help others do so too.
Understanding what they’re going through helps me connect with my customers on a meaningful level. Plus, our trauma-informed approach means we don’t judge anyone: we focus on their strengths and what they can do, rather than their weaknesses. We look beyond their diagnosis - something I struggled with in the mental health system, when I was rejected by certain services.
Having a safe environment, with space to recover, makes an immense difference too. Our step-down supported housing is an amazing transition between hospital and independent living for over 200 people. Everyone has a different journey, and they can move on at their own pace.
My personal experience with mental illness has also shown me how great support can save people’s lives, and bad support can be totally destructive. I experienced racism and misogyny in the mental health system. One psychiatrist assumed I was a sex worker because I had enough money to buy drugs – when I actually worked for one of Britain’s leading law firms. My mental health spiralled because I felt so worthless. I want to ensure no one I support ever feels like that.
Whatever you’re going through, it’s okay to talk about your feelings. You can call the Samaritans at any time of day or night for free on 116 123.