Interview: progressing younger people in social care careers
We speak with Hollie Fletcher, Registered Manager, and Dean Barnshaw, General Manager, from the national charity, Camphill Village Trust, about Hollie’s progression to becoming one of the youngest registered managers in England.
Tell us more about your roles?
Dean (D): I’m the General Manager for the Stourbridge Community and Shared Lives at Camphill Village Trust, where we support over 120 adults. I’m also the CQC Nominated Individual and Trust Safeguarding Lead. I’ve been with the organisation since 2016. As a national organisation we support over 500 adults across 10 communities in England.
Hollie (H): I’m the Registered Manager for Supported Living in the Stourbridge Community. I’ve been with the organisation since February 2016. We currently provide over 750 hours of care and support each week to 40 adults with a range of needs from learning disability to autism and acquired brain injury to mental-ill-health. I also oversee a fantastic staff team, which consists of my Deputy Manager, 3 Team Leaders and 27 Support Workers.
How did you get started in social care?
D: After leaving school I spent several years in the Army as a Military Chef, before going travelling and then finding myself back home working as an assistant support worker, somewhat accidentally. This led me to study social work at university with a focus on youth offending. I’ve now worked in social care for 25 years across many different sectors and settings, but these last years with the Trust have been my proudest.
H: I started at as a Support Worker at the Trust, working part-time on weekends while studying at college. I never imagined myself having a permanent career in care, however when I finished my course, I was unsure what I wanted to do. After speaking with my manager at the time, he suggested that I switch to full-time hours to gain more experience whilst I thought about what I wanted to do with my life.
I quickly began to realise that I loved working in adult social care, it was a job that made me feel fulfilled. I then started working closely with one of the team leaders and with her guidance and support, my skills and knowledge grew, which then allowed me to apply for a vacant team leader role in 2019. I also completed my Level 3 NVQ in Health and Social Care.
In April 2022, I was given the opportunity to apply for the registered manager role. At first, I didn’t know how I felt about it as I had doubts about my ability due to my age, however the whole staff team were super encouraging and gave me that push and support I needed to apply. The whole process was scary, however to this day, I thank those people that believed in me, as I have them thank for where I am now. I’m now over a year into my role and I am also coming towards the end of my Level 5 in Leadership & Management.
Hollie is one of the youngest registered managers in England. How did you support her to progress?
D: We had several long-term senior staff leave last year, so this created an opening not only for Hollie, but for others in the team, to step up to the mark. I’m a great believer in recruiting from within and giving staff the opportunity to prove themselves. Although Hollie’s managerial experience was limited, she knew the staff team, the people we support and had been with the service for several years, so to me it was the right call to make.
Hollie never stops and always keeps me on my toes. She’s everything I expected her to be and much more. I like her willingness to learn, the energy and ‘can-do’ attitude she brings to her team.
H: I work with the most supportive and motivated people to assist and guide me in my role. I really couldn’t do my job without the team who surround me, pushing me each day to be the best manager I can be.
The other Managers in the community have been the best mentors I could have asked for in helping me transition into the role. I don’t think I’d have been able to do it without their support. I also have the most dedicated staff team and although I’m their manager, I learn things from them daily which I take to become a better leader for them.
What advice would you give young people who are considering a career in care?
D: There are lots of different roles and extremely interesting opportunities in adult social care. There really is something for everyone and it’s definitely not one size fits all, but you have to do your homework and search things out. I often used to say that you needed some life experience before working in the sector, but with a majority of our team being in their early twenties, I’ve been proved very wrong. Social care is about values, work ethic, integrity, and a willingness to work as part of a team, and for that you can be any age.
H: Working in care is the most rewarding and you learn so much about yourself as a person as well. Take the jump and go for it as I can guarantee you will have nothing but love for the work you do and the people you will meet.
I have met some of the most brilliant and extraordinary people in my life through my work and I have also made friends for life, so what more could you ask for out of a job? A career in adult social care will change your whole perspective on life for the better and will open your eyes and heart to a world of so much love and potential.
There are so many fantastic things which I enjoy about my role, but the most special part is working with the people we support, not only do I get the opportunity to support them in their lives, but they have also taught me so much about myself which I will never forget.