From Support Worker to Community Support Leader

Find out how Leah progressed her career in Thera South West.

I am a Community Support Leader for Thera South West, I joined Thera as a Support Worker in October 2004.

I began supporting people in their own home and have continued supporting individuals at many different locations. Since November 2020 I have now gone back to be a manager at the house I started at 17 years ago as a Support Worker. Throughout my time with Thera, I have progressed from a Support Worker, Senior Support Worker, Team Coordinator and now a Community Support Leader.

I was always unsure what job I wanted to do. I used to float around, working for short periods of time in places such as a pub, a travel agent, and a hotel. My most recent job before Thera was shift work with a Social Care agency which involved supporting people in their homes.

One of the homes I visited was the house I currently support people in at Thera. The people living in the house captured my heart and after seeing the people supported. I wanted to give this career a go and from conversations with the managers, they made me believe I could be good at this job.

The managers were inspirational to me, they were fabulous. They were nice and had time for me. I am a different person now to what I used to be. I used to bounce around and didn’t commit to anything, but this job really made me who I am, I didn’t know I had the potential in me. Once I got into this career it kept developing.

The managers work with you to plan what steps you need to take to develop, I progressed from a Support Worker to a Community Support Leader. At this point in my career, I am happy as a Community Support Leader, but I know there are still opportunities for me to progress further.

Starting my career in social care I had no relevant qualifications. However, since joining Thera I have been given the opportunity to complete the 4 courses below which helped me progress in my career.

  • Learning Disability Awareness Foundation (LDAF)
  • NVQ Level 2 in Health and Social Care
  • Literacy and Numeracy alongside Level 3 in Health and Social care
  • Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children and Young People’s Service

For brand new Support Workers, it can sometimes be scary starting a new career, but Thera will help you to get there and support you to develop.

Thera’s vision states that people with a learning disability are in control of their own lives. When supporting an adult with a learning disability, it is so much more than personal care. There are so many opportunities to get involved in, for example, I have been able to support someone to go the West End theatre to see Lion King and the Sound of Music.

It’s knowing I empower people to make their own choices and get out and enjoy life. I could come in at the start of my shift and the person wants to go out for the day. I could be going to the gym, swimming, sewing groups or flower arrangements group.

I love working with people who I’m passionate about and I want to be able to help make a change in people’s lives.

Leah Edwards, Community Support Leader for Thera South West

Have you been inspired by Leah’s career story? Start your career in Social Care by searching for a job in your area!