Becoming a Support Worker in a Pandemic

An unconventional yet fascinating experience.

Upon beginning the second year of my course, I was intrigued yet nervous as to what may lay ahead in terms of securing a short work placement. It took just one Zoom group meeting with various Manchester-based organisations to feel truly inspired by one organisation in particular…

Time Specialist Support logo taken from their website

Time Specialist Support is a support agency which focuses on the needs of children and young adults on the Autism spectrum. Support workers are trained to meet the needs of these service users and organise sessions and days out for them. Such sessions include swimming, trips to the cinema and even more unique days-out such as train rides.

Despite an understandably intense application process, I was fortunate enough to be offered a role as a support worker and so my exciting journey with Time began.

Beginning my placement shifts in January of 2021, I was in the unprecedented situation of starting out as a support worker in a pandemic. At the time of applying for the role, I, like the rest of the country, were living in an optimistic but false pretence that the lockdowns and never-ending Coronavirus-related stress were close to an end. However, fate had other plans for the UK.

Subsequently, places to organise sessions such as the swimming pools were all closed. This meant that all of my sessions as a support worker involved a lot of bus rides and walking round the city centre and parks. Naturally, this was somewhat disappointing as I, like the service users, were keen to do more engaging sessions, but rather than let it put a dampener on things we made the best of it. I recognised that these children and their families really appreciate and rely on these sessions and so this required me to ensure we still had fun!

My experience as a support worker and working for Time has been an unforgettable one and was the first time I’d ever done something like this.

Image taken from TSS website.

I hadn’t had any previous experience with Autism personal to me and so when I started the placement, I was feeling rather unprepared and inexperienced. However, the training that the organisation provides their support workers with was hugely beneficial to me.

Parts of this training included lots of really useful information relating to Autism and the effects it can have on people on the spectrum. I was able to educate myself about the disorder and how to be the best support worker possible. A key emphasis was made on being empathetic to people with Autism, as they really just see the world in a different and somewhat beautiful way.

Image from Autism Center of Learning

I feel great joy and appreciation for Time for allowing me to work for their organisation. If I had the opportunity to do it again I would be ecstatic to organise more engaging sessions as the country has eased out of lockdown. Although it was an unconventional time to do a placement like this, it was still a fantastic experience!