What’s your job at Grace Eyre, Jenny?

I’m a support worker for Choices Outreach service three days a week and I’m a project worker for Active Lives day services two days a week.

Do you know other people who work in Choices and Active Lives?

I know one other person in Grace Eyre who works in Choices and Active Lives. Most people just work in one. But I like the mix!

Where is your Active Lives job?

I run some sessions in the centre at Montefiore Road.

It’s a big busy centre isn’t it? What sessions do you run?

I run a music session and a cooking session and I take a group swimming.

What kind of things do you cook in the cooking session?

People choose things they’d like to cook. We look through recipe books and magazines when we’ve got a break from cooking. We’ve cooked all sorts: soup, easy cook pizza, pasta bakes…

We’re hoping that people will be able to cook some of the recipes at home with their support staff or carers and families so we’re making up folders of the recipes that we like as we go along.

Do people eat what they cook?

Yes! You get to cook your own lunch during the cooking session so it’s got to taste good!

What do you do after lunch?

We make a pudding in the afternoon.

We are aiming to cook mostly healthy things so we usually make low sugar puddings with fruit.

What do people like to do in music sessions?

People like different kinds of music so we try to make the group work for everyone.

There are some people in the group who sign with Makaton instead of speaking but they like music a lot! We like to spend time getting to know what kind of music they like.

We use YouTube quite a lot. There are a lot of songs with the words on the screen so we can also try to learn them as we sing along.

Are there instruments to play?

Yes, there’s a good stock of different instruments for people to choose and play.
We are working on hearing and playing along with the beat of the song we’re listening to.

Do you sing different songs every session or do you learn the same ones?

We are trying to learn a couple of songs. But we also choose different themes so one week might be songs about the sea, another week songs from the 50s. We watch clips about the themes too.

It sounds fun!

Yes, singing and playing music is a really ‘feel good’ activity.

Where do you and the swimming group go to swim?

We go to the King Alfred pool. It’s a nice pool with a shallow end as well as a deep end.

Do the service users in your group all know how to swim?

Yes, everyone knows how to swim. We haven’t got a group for learner swimmers yet but some people are more confident at swimming than others; some like to swim a lot of lengths; some people like to practice diving. And some people just like swimming and chatting in the shallow end. It’s a group for all kinds of swimmers!

Is it busy in the pool?

It’s very busy in school holidays. But it’s not too busy at other times we get a good swim in.

Is it cold?

It’s not too cold! Some weeks it’s warmer than others but you get warm swimming!

Where is your work for Choices?

In Choices you just support one person, usually in the community, sometimes in their home.
I support a lady to go swimming. She’s a wheelchair user so she loves to go swimming. It gives her a lot more movement so that’s a positive thing to do. And we like to have a big cappuccino in her favourite café in George Street afterwards.

Do you support other people in Choices?

Yes, I’m supporting someone to a work placement in Sold – a Charity shop in Shoreham. It’s also a shop where you can train to work in a shop.

Can people with learning disabilities train there?

Yes, it’s a very welcoming shop to everyone. There are people with learning disabilities training and on the team there. Everyone is friendly.

Do you work in the shop, too?

Sometimes I help out there too and work alongside the person I’m supporting. But she’s getting on very well and she doesn’t really need me there any more! I end up buying wonderful bargains in Sold because it’s such a lovely shop.

Is Shoreham difficult to get to?

We take the 700 bus. The number 2 bus goes there. But the 700 bus is really fast!

Sold sounds great.

Sold is a great place. I recommend a visit!

Do you support people at weekends?

Yes, I support three gentlemen every other Sunday.

What do they like to do?

One of them likes a breakfast out! Sunday is a quiet day so some people like to use the time to hang out at home and have a chat. We can support in that way too.

Do you have any other jobs in Grace Eyre?!

I am a relief worker at the Grace Eyre Art Studio. It’s an exhibition space and art shop upstairs at the Open Market.
It’s a really lovely shop selling art, crafts and cards that people in Grace Eyre have made in their sessions at Montefiore Road. It’s open Thursday through to Saturday. It’s definitely worth a visit! You can also join a course to learn about customer service at the Art Studio. It’s an invaluable course!

I also support the Purple Club House. There are the best DJs playing fantastic music upstairs. Plus a nice bar and great movies downstairs. It’s a really lovely social space to meet people.

So you’re keeping busy. What do you like best about working for Grace Eyre?

Grace Eyre is a really friendly company to work for. Everyone I’ve worked with, service users and colleagues, is friendly. It makes it a very special place to work.

You are doing creative and practical and sporty activities. And you are supporting people in their home. Grace Eyre offers different things for different service users?

I think it’s one of the best things about Grace Eyre. It really does make the support  to fit what the person needs and wants. That’s what support should be all about.

Are there difficult things about your job?

It can get very busy! Sometimes you have to rush through lunch to get ready for a session. Or you have to run for a bus to get to your next visit in the community on time. People at Grace Eyre are good at supporting each other so things always get sorted!

What do you like best about support work?

I make big choices about what I want from my life every day. Support work is a way of making sure that people with learning disabilities are getting to choose to do the things they like doing. It’s wonderful to support people to have fun and to do the things they like doing. People also learn more skills so they can be more independent. Supporting people to gain confidence and try out new things is another brilliant part of being a support worker.

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