A trailblazing scheme to encourage young people in Lincolnshire to explore opportunities in the care sector is changing perceptions of what the work entails.
Students aged 17 to 25 in the Skegness to Boston area are halfway through the government backed 12-week Inspire 2 Influence programme, which it is hoped will eventually be rolled out across the country to drive recruitment,
They joined care providers on Wednesday at the Storehouse in Skegness for a party to celebrate their achievements so far - and put an end to any misconceptions that caring is ‘about wiping bottoms’.
Work placements have included the learning disability charity in Skegness and Skirbeck Care Home in Boston.
Toni Barwell, workforce development coordinator for the Lincolnshire Care Association (LinCA), explained candidates did not have to be Grade A students. She said: “Working alongside students on the Inspire 2 Influence programme has allowed me to witness the full potential that these young people hold, which they are unlocking as their confidence grows.
“These students could soon be employed as Care or Support Assistants who will continue to develop into roles like team leaders.
“I am so proud of how each student overcomes their personal barriers and embraces each challenge we set them.”
Lauren Fletcher, 21, of Skegness, has previously worked as a lifeguard in the resort and admitted she wasn’t sure the course was for her.
She said: “I thought I’d hate it but they showed me the different aspects of the work and I’ve really enjoyed taking clients out shopping or to the library, or feeding the birds.”
The programme has also affirmed a 23-year-old Boston woman’s ambition to be an art therapist. Octavia Ross had been a nanny in Sibsey when during a visit to the Job Centre she says she was “inspired by Toni’s enthusiasm”.
She joined the programme while also studying sociology at Open University and is currently in a work placement at Skirbeck Court Care Home.
“At Christmas I helped a resident who had problems with her hands create a Santa collage by helping her cut out the shapes and then letting her put them on. The lady was so amazed at what she achieved and it showed me what a difference I could make becoming an art therapist.”
Jean Bamber, who is manager at the home, said: “Octavia is young but has a really good head on her. When residents come to us we are often told by the family ‘mum can’t do that’. But young people see our residents as individuals and have the attitude, ‘let’s see what you can do’.”
l You can follow the students’ progress and learn more on the Inspire 2 Influence Facebook page