5 minutes with…Darrell  

The Support Worker at Nightingale House, on working in mental health, training, and why team work is important.

I used to work for Derby Mental Health Trust as a health care assistant. My job was to support people who had different mental health issues. I learned very quickly that at the beginning of each shift, I had to have an open mind and adapt to all manner of situations.

I used to work for a major car manufacturer. It was neither enjoyable nor rewarding. You get to a point in life where you feel you’re just going through the motions, and I wanted more out of my career.

After a three-year break, I was back working in care.  I was one of the first members of staff recruited at Nightingale House. The first day was quite daunting, but I was equally excited to be starting this journey.

I took part in a lot of training. A two-week block got me up to date with all the mandatory training needed to do the job – this was before even the first resident arrived.

I love working with young adults. When you build a rapport and trust with another person, you can achieve great things. It really makes my job worth doing when I can see a young adult smile in joy.

Working at Nightingale House is like having a second family. I love those little moments when we cook for the residents, and everybody is in the kitchen playing music and enjoying themselves. All the staff work hard to maintain this type of atmosphere.

Keeping up with all the regulations is hard work. Policy and procedures change all the time, so you must make sure your work is above board. These are communicated to us, so that helps.

Everyone here feels valued as a team. We see the results of the work we do with young adults quite quickly. I know of friends in other jobs who are far removed from their work’s impact, which can make things monotonous. At Progress, you do not wait to see the payoff.

You can bring a lot of life experience to Progress. Communication skills are the foundation of care. When you care for a loved one, you obviously have empathy. So these transferable skills can be used.

If you want to make difference in the lives of others, visit our recruitment page and apply for a role at Progress today.

Why I foster: Helen

In a new series of interviews we have asked Progress foster carers why they foster care and how fostering changes lives.

Helen has been caring for James and Perry with her husband, Henry. This is her story.

When you have a child of your own, you realise what a positive influence they can have on your life. My husband Henry and I had reached a stage in our lives where we did not want any more children of our own, but we did want to support and care for a child that was less fortunate than others.

Whether it is for a week or full-time, if Henry and I could change a child’s life for the better, we would.

Some of my work colleagues had experience as foster carers. The more they spoke to me about how fostering works, the more it seemed like a great way to help children.

When you start fostering, prepare for your life to change.

You will go through a lot emotionally and looking after someone else’s child will take a lot out of you. In some cases, you may only have a short time with a child or young person, maybe a year or two so it may feel like everything is happening quickly.

However, you must remember that the time you are in their lives, could be an important period for them. It is for this reason that Henry and I put all our energies into ensuring we can make a difference.

When Progress told us about James and Perry we wanted to help. The boys did not have the structure of regular family life, so we expected things to be a little chaotic. In all honestly, they were just two sweet little boys that needed love and attention.

Henry and I were nervous about the rules we wanted to implement in the house. We did not want them to feel intimidated but knew that the rules would stand all of us in good stead.

James and Perry have been fantastic at going along with everything. The boys say please and thank you and eat three meals a day, as opposed to the junk food they ate before they arrived. Routines like brushing their teeth and going to bed at set times, have helped them to live a normal life.

As a couple, Henry and I appreciate having a network of other foster carers. Progress hosts the “Voice of Progress”, a monthly club for foster children to get together and participate in fun activities. The foster carers tag along and use it as a chance to talk to each other about our experiences.

There is no set rule book for what makes a good foster carer. We all bring our uniqueness to any given situation. Having some life experience and being a caring and patient person helps.

Fostering is my way of making a positive difference in the world. Henry and I feel that giving a child the chance to succeed in life is not only good for them, but for everyone in society. If you can offer a child a home, along with the help and support they need at a difficult time in their life, then you must get involved.

Keen to know how you can change a child’s life? Click here for more information