I was recently moaning to a close friend about a particularly rough day I’d had as a carer. I was right in the middle of one of my impassioned rants when Clare suddenly stopped me and asked:
“Why do you do this stuff?”
My immediate response was that I absolutely love my job. No ifs, no buts, this is the path I’m meant to be on. But it wasn’t always that way. I was stuck in the well-travelled road of the rat race when I finally decided to jump out and do something different.
What follows is my story about why I chose community care as a career. If this is something you’re thinking about, you’ll hopefully find it at least a wee bit helpful when making your decision!
I Can Make a Real Difference
My day job in the financial industry (note: I was kinda low down on the totem pole) made me feel just a tad pointless. I don’t have anything against people working in the banking sector per se, but I just knew it wasn’t for me.
I wasn’t making a positive impact on people’s lives, and it really bugged me. I couldn’t even think of an abstract way in which I was making even the tiniest real contribution to society.
And for me, it just wasn’t right.
I knew that for my personal happiness, I needed to be sure I was helping in an immediate way to transform an individual’s life for the better. Community care puts you in the position to help people realise their potential, unlock hidden talents, fight unfair situations, get through the day-to-day, and to just love others when they need it most.
I Loved The Experience
Even before I started working, I knew I would love the job. How? I was lucky enough to have a whole chunk of experience under my belt as part of my community support education. And while I’m not pushing you to sign up, I do advocate going for a course that gives you a proper window into what it’s like to work as a community carer.
My course required a minimum of 120 hours of work placement. I personally worked for two different organizations, which gave me a wider experience in the industry. The nice thing about my program was that an assessor visited me on several occasions to ensure I was progressing as expected. It also made me feel I had the support to back me up in case I needed it.
Ultimately, it wasn’t the learning materials, or the absolutely awesome trainers (shout out to Jodie and Nic) but the experience that made me feel that this was the right thing for me. I not only felt great about what I was doing, but I also realised I had the potential to be good at it.
It Offers Variety
One of the things I absolutely hated about my old job is that it was the same thing every single day. One day was a carbon copy of the next. I seriously felt as if I was living the start (and just the start!) of the movie Office Space on repeat (and if you haven’t seen it, I can also highly recommend that too).
Community care is the complete opposite experience. One day I can be working with an asylum seeker looking to renew his right to remain. The next I’ll be dealing with child protection. And another day I’ll be helping a family deal with a difficult school problem. In short, there’s loads of variety.
Admittedly, I’m not the kind of person who likes to sit still. I also don’t like feeling like a robot, performing the same task over and over. Community care keeps me on my toes, and gives me a new experience almost every single day. Let’s just say I’m never looking at the clock to check when it’s home time!
Yes, the most important thing for me is helping my community. But I also need to be pragmatic and think job security, not just for myself but also for my growing family. I knew I wanted a job that would offer everything I’ve already explained above, but I wanted to go to bed without worrying about being made redundant.
Community carers are in great demand. I have the knowledge that even if the company I work for needs to make cuts for whatever reason, I can get another position relatively easily. And when you’re working in this sector, that’s no unimportant thing.
“It Sort of Chose Me”
I recently read an article in The Guardian where other social workers explained what drove them to embark on this particular career path. Martin Webber, who now works for the International Centre for Mental Health Social Research, put it in a way that just clicked with me: “I didn’t specifically choose social care as a career, it sort of chose me.”
Bingo, I thought. That’s exactly how I’d put it. It completely encapsulates my experience. No matter how difficult and challenging some days can be (and trust me, they can be extremely tough!), the rewards always far outweigh the negatives.
I wouldn’t feel right doing anything else. I feel as if I’m contributing, doing something useful, I love the relationships that I build on a daily basis, and ultimately I genuinely feel that it’s what I’m meant to be doing.
And that’s my story. It’s obviously just my own experience, but many of the points I’ve covered are shared by a multitude of my colleagues. If you feel it just ‘clicks’ with you, I can’t recommend it enough. Tough days and all.