Care village helps young onto career ladder
Newcastle-under-Lyme’s workforce of the future has been discovering the personal fulfilment gained from building relationships with older people, as they undertake a hands-on work experience designed to give them a glimpse into the world of social care and the wealth of rewarding career opportunities it has to offer.
Young people are currently enjoying their practical programme at dementia specialist, Belong, supporting its Lower Street residents to live an active later life.
The goal is to afford children from Blackfriars Academy, and Newfriars College, some of whom may face additional challenges when entering employment, the chance to gain invaluable experience in a role they could apply for when they come of age.
Meanwhile, Belong’s customers benefit from interacting with new faces, asking questions and imparting their own wisdom to their guests.
Coordinating the scheme, Georgina Cliff, experience day support worker at Belong Newcastle-under-Lyme, explains more: “The pupils have been really enthused learning new life skills, such as using an iron press or painting a fence, and how to communicate with our customers, some of whom are living with dementia, as well as what it takes to support them as they go about their everyday life.
“At Belong, our belief is that everyone has something to contribute, no matter age or ability, and it’s our job to help people to do that. Some of the pupils are wheelchair users or walk with the aid of a frame, for example, and it’s especially important that we can be fully inclusive. Everyone can make a contribution and that’s what matters.”
Blackfriars Academy approached the not-for-profit leader in dementia care for the initiative based on their established relationship, which already sees its younger schoolchildren visit Belong weekly for intergenerational activities with the residents. Workshops include music and movement, storytelling, and visits to the educational Belong Heritage Gallery, integrated within the building.
Georgina continues: “We’ve found that because the older children are already familiar with us and the surroundings, they’ve embraced being part of the team. We’re thankful for their assistance; it’s been a pleasure watching them grow their abilities and we hope the experience will have inspired some of them to consider careers in social care in the future.”
Sarah Johnson, preparation for employment teacher at Blackfriars Academy, added: “Our students benefit immensely from their work experience with Belong. The team is extremely supportive, adapting roles where needed to include all our students, who tell us how much they look forward to their visits. We’ve seen their confidence and social skills flourish whilst they build their CVs, ready for the world of work.”
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