"Being around people with learning disabilities is a really positive thing. It's fun!"

Support Worker

I’ve learnt to be more patient, discerning, empathetic and perceptive to people’s moods and needs. My active listening skills have also developed and I can use them proactively to support someone. It’s rewarding to build up a rapport – it can take time – but it can be rewarding for that reason.

I’m a support worker and in my role I support and enable people to make informed decisions and to understand the consequences of these decisions. It’s about helping the client identify their needs.

Our nine clients all have learning disabilities and some have autism and Asperger’s. They live in self-contained flats and for the majority of the time they have one-to-one support here and in the community.

We are the main fixture in their life on a day-to-day basis.  There’s a lot of support on money and relationships. It all varies according to who you’re working with. Some people here require more support than others.

A lot of support is trying to make life more positive, trying to make the humdrum more enjoyable. It’s about walking the tightrope of helping them with the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities and also sharing in their sense of humour, what they enjoy, having fun, going on trips and extending their social network.

One client wants a girlfriend and I’m trying to broaden his social network by supporting him to go to a disco and speed dating. With another client I support him to take photos in places from his past in Sussex and then we have lunch. It’s more fun for him rather than just going to the bank. It’s good seeing him happier, more relaxed and talking to people now.

I’ve learnt to be more patient, discerning, empathetic and perceptive to people’s moods and needs. My active listening skills have also developed and I can use them proactively to support someone. It’s rewarding to build up a rapport – it can take time – but it can be rewarding for that reason.

I want more people to understand that being around people with learning disabilities is a really positive thing. You get a different perspective – you learn new ways of thinking about the world. It’s fun!

Southdown manages supported living services across Sussex. Supported living is where an individual owns or rents their own home and has control over the support they get and how they live their lives. Accommodation and support is provided separately. It can be very different for different people. For one person, supported living might be a few hours of support a week to enable them to live independently by themselves in a rented flat. For another it may be around the clock support in a shared house or self-contained flat.