Support Worker Required For Art and Adventures

I’ve never written an online dating profile. I did start one once but found the mix of expectation, self-promotion, and the pressure to be funny overwhelming. So, I abandoned the idea. But I’m also finding writing this post, which has some similar qualities, quite daunting. But abandoning it is not an option – this is an important post about an important post.

I need support to live, and to work. When I say support I’m referring to the help I get from other people – my support workers. Their help keeps me safe, lets me to do the job I love, means I can make plans, be spontaneous, and have a cat. Without the right support my world shrinks very quickly.

A team of about seven people help me throughout the week. One of them, my in-work support worker, has a key role within the team. This person meets me at my home each morning, helps me prepare for the day ahead, travels with me to work and supports me throughout the day. This is often at our office in Peckham, but my work takes me further afield, elsewhere in London or the UK, or even abroad.

My previous in-work support worker Claire left over a year ago and we haven’t yet been able to find anyone permanent to replace her. I’m not alone in finding it difficult to recruit – there’s a national shortage of support workers right now and it’s impacting on many people’s lives. It’s probably hard to imagine what the role of support worker actually involves so I’m going to try to describe what a day as my support worker is like.

I’m co-artistic director of Touretteshero which means I help shape our creative programme. This involves making theatre shows, holding playful events, creating films, performing at festivals and working with a wide range of other creative, cultural and community organisations. I deliver a fair bit of training, speak at conferences, and lead on fundraising. I also contribute to our Solidarity programme which is the work we do supporting other disabled people. My support worker is with me when I do all these things, so it’s a varied and interesting job for the right person.

My in-work support worker needs a particular mix of skills. They need to be happy to: help me with practical tasks like moving around in my wheelchair, make me food and drink, help me with personal care, manage intensifications of my tics, and help me stay on track with tasks. They also need strong admin skills, to be confident using a computer, and be pretty speedy at typing.

A photo of Jess with a support worker in a colourful installation. Jess is in her wheelchair on the right of the image wearing a bright blue tracksuit. Her support worker is on the left on the image in a bright orange t-shirt, both are masked and are surrounded by colourful streamers and spherical paper lampshades. Photo by: Andreas Greiner-Napp

Touretteshero is currently a team of six but we expect this to increase in the next year as we grow and add new posts. People who have excelled as support workers in the past have had a very broad range of experiences. It’s an advantage if you‘ve worked with disabled people before, but it’s not essential.

Important qualities include being organised, open minded, confident, and calm. Having a good eye for detail and sense of humour are useful too. An interest in art is also great but you don’t have to have worked for an arts organisation before.

In many jobs liking your colleagues is a great bonus, but it’s not usually essential. But my support workers and I spend a lot of time together. We share amazing moments as well as mundane ones. They work in my home, get to know my family and bond with my cat – so getting to know and like each other is vital.

Could this be a role that you or someone you know might be right for?

If so, please apply, or share this information with any individuals or networks that might be interested. You can find a detailed job pack here, but the headlines are:

Based in London (Peckham)
36 hours a week, over 4 days (Tuesday to Friday)
£28,922 per year for 36hrs a week (including paid lunch breaks)
6 weeks paid holiday, plus Bank Holidays
Female Only
Driver preferable
Training provided
The application deadline is: Monday 4th March

Writing this post felt daunting because I know just how important finding the right person is. Being without regular support over the last year has been really tough. I also know that this a great job, in a small, relaxed team, with lots of opportunities to learn and develop new skills.

If you have questions about the role please do get in touch.

We have loads of exciting plans for the year ahead and I’m looking forward to finding a new support worker to help us realise them.

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