Sarah Hanson is Deputy Manager at Wheal Gerry in Camborne where Sarah and the team support three young men with autism and learning disabilities. Sarah joined Green Light in April 2019.
Q: What previous experience of autism or learning disability did you have before joining Green Light?
A: I had no previous experience with autism and learning disabilities before coming to work for Greenlight, just a passion to help make a difference to other people’s lives.
Q: What kind of things do you and your team do on a typical day?
A: We support individuals to access the community and engage in activities, support them in the home with daily tasks including cooking ,cleaning, laundry, shopping and help administer any medication or help with any personal care needs.
|Two of the three Wheal Gerry homes|
Q: What kind of things would you be doing to support the people living in your home?
A: The main focus is to support individuals to engage in activities and be as independent as possible. Encouraging people to try new things helps build confidence and life skills. This can be anything from walking to the shop to get a drink or coffee or going for a drive for a picnic lunch. Some enjoy games in the home, making Lego models, painting and drawing, home baking and cooking.
Q: What are the challenges & rewards of supporting people with autism & learning disabilities?
A: There can be difficulties communicating & supporting people to manage their anxieties. The rewards are seeing people engage in activities which they really enjoy and the pleasure this brings to their life.
Q: As you head to work; what do you most look forward to?
A: Knowing that I’m making a difference to someone else’s life and doing a job that really makes a difference to someone’s life.
Q: What has surprised you most about working with people with autism & learning disabilities?
A: What a great sense of humour & personality each individual has and the amazing things individuals can achieve & overcome despite any learning difficulty they may have.
Q: Have you learned anything unexpected about yourself or your skills and abilities?
A: I’ve learned to think outside the box & be adaptable. Look at things from other people’s viewpoints; put yourself in their shoes.
Q: What kind of skills & values would you say people need to have, or develop, in order to be great at this kind of work?
A: You need to be a patient, kind & caring individual. Have a real passion for helping other people and be emotionally resilient. Be able to think on your feet. Be flexible and adaptable to change. Have the ability to look at things from other people’s viewpoints. Have empathy for other people.
Q: What's been the highlight of your career working with people with autism and learning disabilities so far?
A: My highlight so far was last Christmas supporting an individual to see Father Christmas. It was amazing to see how much joy this brought to an individual‘s life. Someone who normally struggles to show emotion and manage his anxiety at that time of year.
Q: As you leave work, at the end of a typical day, how do you know you've done a great job?
A: When the individuals we support are happy and content and achieved what we wanted to achieve together for that day.