44-year old Sarah Brandrick had worked for a pharmaceutical company as well as volunteering in a school and working as a care assistant, prior to becoming a residential support worker at Hopedale residential special school in Staffordshire.
Hopedale combines a residential care home for 7 to 17 year olds with a special school on site. Both facilities are graded outstanding by Ofsted. The setting provides a therapeutic environment for looked after children who suffer from emotional, behavioural, and mental health issues.
Sarah’s role as a residential support worker involves works with up to fifty children in a number of different ways. She provides care and nurturing support for the children she looks after, including organising and running activities and clubs, companionship, keywork sessions and supporting contact with family members. Sarah is currently a key worker to a child, which involves taking an active in role in that child’s life just as you would as a parent.
Sarah comments: “I grew up in Birmingham, in the middle of the city in a care home. I was adopted by a wonderful family, even though I found it very hard to adapt to. I want to show the children in care that there is light at the end of the tunnel – it’s all about nurturing and caring for them and I find it very personally and professionally rewarding.”
Hopedale has regulations in place which mean that all staff must complete a level 3 NVQ. Sarah is completing the Level 3 Apprenticeship in Residential Childcare with Acacia Training, which is an advanced qualification equivalent to A Levels. It combines the NVQ with other important qualifications such as functional skills – English, maths and ICT.
Clare Ratcliffe, Manager at Hopedale, explains: “I interviewed Sarah for a job here almost a year ago now. She was really keen to do the qualification and have a career change. She felt strongly that her own life experiences meant that she could contribute to the children that we look after and had the skills needed to work with challenging behaviour. I must say she was absolutely right! She makes an exceptionally positive contribution to the children and young people she works with – they all think she is fabulous and they respond very well to her.”
Claire adds: “Many of the children here come from very difficult and upsetting backgrounds. Sarah’s own life experience means she offers a lot of natural insight into the correlation between what the children have been through in the past, and their behaviour and experiences. Her natural empathy combined with the education she has gained as a mature learner completing the Apprenticeship, are the perfect combination.”
Sarah’s assessor, Nicki Blasé, of Acacia Training, says: “When Sarah first started her apprenticeship, she hadn’t been in education for a while and she originally lacked confidence in her ability to succeed on the qualification. Initially, she needed a lot of support and reassurance but she is very conscientious and has tackled every task with vigour. She is determined to achieve in her role.”
Acacia Training provides Apprenticeships, work-based training and short courses for new employees or those already working in the care, childcare and health and social care sectors. Contact us to find out how.
New to the sector and looking for an Apprentice role? We are teaming up with HC-One to recruit to a host of new apprenticeship vacancies across the East and West Midlands.