Work your way

April 21 2023

The care sector is experiencing an unprecedented crisis in recruiting to front line roles. In this blog series we talk to Enabling Support Worker Philip to find out how working for Livability works for him


Hi Philip, where do you work and who do you support?

I work for Livability’s supported living service in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, where we support five people in three houses. They have a range of disabilities including autism, learning disabilities and epilepsy.

Tell us about your family

I’m married to Lorraine, who’s a nurse development lead (her remit included working on government Covid policies), and we have two children and eight grandchildren.

What’s your career path been?

I joined Livability back in 2010, because I wanted a part-time job alongside my work as a minister at a church in Belfast. The church couldn’t support a minister, and my son was working for Livability in Lisburn at the time [as part of Prospects, a Livability forerunner], and he said why didn’t I try it? Working this way suits me well. Before this, I was in the police in Belfast for 12-plus years.

Do you feel supported in your role?

Yes, the service manager and team leaders are very approachable and are always there for you. You’re always learning on this job and online training is ongoing. I felt well-supported during Covid and received a £500 bonus for working during that time. We were fortunate in that we didn’t have too many issues here in Northern Ireland.

How flexible are your hours?

I do 20 contracted hours a week, with two overnight shifts and one morning. The team leader will always work around it if something comes up, but usually these shift times work well.

Do you feel valued in your work?

Yes, I do. In staff meetings our manager Nadine usually tells us how well we’re doing, and she’ll even phone you up from time to time and thank you for doing the job. That means a lot. I really see my work here as another branch of Christian ministry, helping those who are vulnerable. It’s a fine, worthwhile job and I learn from the people we support too. I get a lot of strength from prayer and my faith, and I’m here to offer spiritual support to staff and people we support, if they want that.

What’s been a memorable moment for you?

Well, I offered to take two people, Steve and Irvine, over to London for last year’s celebration tea with HRH Princess Anne. I managed to guide us to the right trains and back to the airport and they really enjoyed it. Steve is a Paralympic medal holder for show-jumping and he wore his medals at the tea, to show The Princess Royal.

Do you enjoy working with the Lisburn team?

Yes, we’ve got a good team – everyone is very supportive of each other and we get on pretty well together. It makes it a lot easier when you can approach the manager and team leaders.

How do you relax, Philip?

My wife makes sure I get off for my holidays! We’re off to Indianapolis for our church’s general assembly soon – she’s actually the representative and I’m just a hanger-on. Our main holiday was supposed to be our retirement splash-out trip (but the retirement has been postponed!): we’re going on an Alaskan cruise and taking the Rocky Mountaineer train through Canada. I also like fishing, getting away on my own to think things through. Sometimes I just throw in the line with no bait on it, just sit and think, and people think you’re fishing!

What have you learned about disability, through your work?

Disabilities can be hidden, and sometimes others think ‘there’s nothing the matter with them’ while other disabilities are very visible. The thing is, disability can creep up on you any time, especially mental health challenges, which often isn’t considered to be a disability, but it’s such a big issue. Anxiety can be an issue for the people we support. Sometimes I can help by encouraging people that we can work through this; other times people just need their space.

Would you recommend Livability as an employer?

I already have recommended it to a few people, and some applied. I say that this is something you can do, when you have the training (which Livability provides). Sometimes people are scared by the terms ‘learning disability’ or ‘autism’ but the training shows you it’s just another way of caring for people.


Read More Articles:

Next article:
My kind of job: Dazz’s story

Time for a new phone cover image?
Why not run for #TeamLivability at the London Marathon?

  • Training support and fundraising pack
  • Kerb crews on M-day to cheer you along
  • Post-run party complete with masseurs