A woman from Bampton in Devon is celebrating a career milestone this month as she reaches 40 years of supporting people with learning disabilities to live their best lives possible.
Sue Marley, who works for national charity Hft, will be marking the occasion with her colleagues and the people she has been supporting for the last four decades at her side.
The 58 year-old has enjoyed a lifelong passion for care, beginning her career as a support worker at the age of 18 after studying residential care at college. After immediately stepping into her first job at a local learning disability service and the support worker hasn’t looked back.
The last four decades have seen some change for Sue, who supports seven people to live at a residential service, and two people to live in their own home.
Over the years, the support worker has taken on roles including team leader and senior support worker, and has witnessed the service where she works change providers, and eventually merge with Hft in 2013.
However, her dedication to care has remained consistent, with Sue discovering a passion for supporting people to boost their independence along the way. As a lifelong resident of Bampton, Sue has seen people she supports thrive as they establish themselves in the close-knit community, and has supported them to take part in activities including pantomimes and church events.
Sue counts helping people to maintain social connections as a career highlight, which has included supporting one lady who used to be anxious about getting out and about on her own. With Sue’s support, she gradually started travelling short distances independently, and eventually began to visit a local coffee shop on a weekly basis, which expanded her social network, boosted her wellbeing and greatly increased her level of independence.
The support worker said: “I come from a big family and have always known that working in social care is the job for me. My favourite thing about my job is the interaction with the people I support. It’s the little things that make the difference – from taking someone for a walk, to painting their nails or supporting them to video call their mum.
“Our role is more important than ever during the pandemic, and we’ve worked so hard to go the extra mile and do our best for the people we’re supporting, whether that’s deep cleaning, or explaining the situation to people who may not understand, or being inventive in the activities we do with people. Great support workers are patient, caring and good listeners. If you’re interested in a new role and have those qualities, I’d definitely tell you to give support work a go.”
Kay Nicholls, Registered Cluster Manager at Hft, said: “We couldn’t be prouder of all that Sue has achieved in the forty years she’s spent supporting people with learning disabilities at our service. Sue is an invaluable member of the team, and has a wealth of knowledge that she constantly strives to add to. Sue is a longstanding familiar face, and her commitment to her role means she’s been able to provide a level of consistency to people that isn’t always possible in a care environment. She is one of our service’s shining stars and should be an inspiration to anyone starting out their careers in social care.”