Steve has been a support worker with Autism at Kingwood for 13 years. In May he undertook a sponsored walk to fundraise for a get-together for the people we support. His initial fundraising target was £200, a target that he thoroughly smashed, raising an amazing £621! We caught up with Steve to find out what motivated him to undertake his fundraiser, and what has kept him with Autism at Kingwood for so long.
What inspired you to undertake your 23 mile walk to raise funds for Autism at Kingwood?
Well, I’ve been here for 13 years and I wanted to do something because it has been such a difficult year. I thought it would be nice if the people we support could get together once it was safe to do so and have a bit of a barbecue or something. I used to do a lot of running when I was younger and I’m keen to do a marathon. I did the Oxford half marathon for Kingwood a few years back, but they are very hard to get a place in, so I thought a sponsored walk would be a good idea. My plan was to do it in 6 hours. I started at 7 and finished at half one. My feet were a bit sore!
What brought you to the care sector in the first place, and what attracted you to Autism at Kingwood?
Before I came to Kingwood I worked in a factory, and was made redundant when it closed down. My friend, who is retired now, suggested it as she worked for Kingwood. I was a bit reluctant at first, because I’d never done anything like care work before, but I went for it and it was really good. I went for my interview in April 2008 and they started my induction on May 6th.
Obviously it’s a lot different from working in a factory. In a factory you finish at a certain time and then can go home. Here, I still find it quite difficult to switch off, because you’re thinking, did I sign the medication sheet? Or did I do this? Why did I do that? Because you’re dealing with people and not the upkeep of machinery, I feel quite responsible for the people that I’m working with. So I did find it a bit of a challenge to begin with. But my colleagues at Carterton were really nice and supportive and I got on with everyone there. That really helped.
At one point I did leave for a very short period, not for long and I came back to Kingwood. I just thought the grass is greener on the other side – but it wasn’t. I went to another charity where I went from house to house, but it just wasn’t for me because I like to spend more time with the people I care and support for, not just rush around and get only 15 minutes, half an hour, so I came back to Kingwood.
What made you want to stay with us for 13 years?
The training is second to none. That’s one reason it’s great to work for Kingwood. And the other reason is, Kingwood have stood by me – when I’ve had problems and difficulties, they supported me and were really understanding. So I want to give something back to the charity.
The training’s really good, my colleagues are really supportive. If you ever have any problems you can talk to your area manager and support team. Everybody’s so supportive.
What do you love best about your role?
Every day is different. And you’re dealing with people. It’s nice to see them smile when they are happy, and you’re helping them with their everyday lives. It’s nice to be able to support and help someone. In the factory you feel like you’re just a number. This is a much more rewarding job and it’s nice to come home thinking you have helped someone with their day.
I remember one holiday I went on with a person we support. We did abseiling, and the person I was supporting had to be in a wheelchair. I was attached to him and he was in his wheelchair, he was a bit nervous but we did it. We took a recording of it and he had a copy and his mum had a copy and then whenever I went to support him in Carterton he would be watching the DVD and smiling and laughing. So it’s really good.
Are there some people that you’ve worked with consistently over the years?
I worked at the Carterton service for years. Now I’ve worked all over the place.
There is one person I support and I’ve been supporting him for the last 6 years and I support him 4 days a week now. We get on really well and we got for lots of walks together. He likes driving long distances and has his own car that I drive, I can’t use my own because it would cost too much. His parents are going to book the Kingwood holiday home. He doesn’t like staying away overnight from his flat, but his parents are booking it for a few days so he can use it as a base and go on nice walks. There are lots of nice walks around there and he really likes going on walks.
What are your plans for the future?
Well, I’m already planning another fundraiser. And like I said, I’d love to do a marathon. Other than that, I’ve enjoyed my time working with Kingwood and I hope to carry on and probably do another 13 years!