“I can talk with passion about what I do because I fully believe in it” says Phil McDonald who is at the helm of The Hub, which helps children and young adults with disabilities to get the absolute most from life.
Phil started his working life at the tax office, but feeling unfulfilled, took a leap of faith to work in care and has never looked back since. He started in children’s services working alongside young people with autism and behavioural support needs.
In 2008 he joined Progress, initially as a senior support worker at Shire House. He moved on to his first managerial role at Regis House, which was then providing short breaks. He was instrumental in the company’s further development of our Hub services, before becoming operations manager of the Hub in 2017.
His role includes involvement in recruitment days. “Quite often people have no professional experience, but they go on to make really good carers” he says. “I think it is important we offer people that stepping stone. Progress is a personal company, it’s not too big. You still know who people are and there’s always a new opportunity. If people fit within the value base and are motivated, they can relatively quickly climb the ladder.” He continued, “We are always willing to train people as relevant to their job role and to support their own personal development. As long as they are willing to engage with it, we are willing to support them to do it.”
Phil says his role is a massive challenge all of the time. “There is always something different happening” he says, which is why he enjoys it. He also likes the difference he can make. “There are people we’ve supported that I have known since they were tiny kids and now some of them are living on their own independently. Knowing that the services we have created for them, have supported them to do that, is a big thing for me.”
Phil explained, “The point I stop being passionate about what I do, is the point I know it’s time for me to not do it anymore. This role is not something you can do half-heartedly. It doesn’t finish at 5 o’clock.”
Outside of work Phil enjoys spending time with his three children. He likes reading and watching films. He describes his personality as ‘pretty relaxed’, adding “I’m not easily phased and I’m relatively flexible. I don’t mind working in crisis and I communicate well with people”.
Sometimes he misses the interaction with the young people now that his career has progressed. “Sometimes people will come into the office to say hello and I spend a bit of time with them, having a chat. That was what I fell in love with in the beginning, that level of interaction and helping people.”
Highlights have included an ‘outstanding’ inspection when he was at Shire House. But he also points to more individual ‘victories.’ There was the little boy who came for short breaks when he was five years old. “He had a crop of bright red hair and he was like a little whirlwind, running around all over the place” says Phil. “You couldn’t let him out of your sight. We worked with him to settle him down.” He was placed with a foster family and Phil has been delighted to see his progress. At the last Progress summer barbeque, years after they first met, Phil watched him sitting quietly under a tree eating his packed lunch. It is moments like this, moments too numerous to mention, that make his job worthwhile.