BEFORE joining the North East Autism Society in 2020, David Winter worked in retail and rose to the position of Duty Manager at Iceland.

However, having previously worked in a supported living service for autistic adults, David says he felt like he had more to offer, which led him to consider a career with the Society.

“It got to the stage where I felt like I wanted to do more. I so enjoyed doing the supported living work but the downside was the sleepover shifts,” Dave, from Teesside, says, “So when I heard about joining NEAS I thought well I’ll have a go and see if I can get in.”

After seeing a job advertisement for Level Two Teaching Assistants at the Mackenzie Thorpe Centre, David decided to take the leap and switch careers - and now, almost two years on, he says he’s never looked back.

He adds: “I’m really, really enthusiastic about the job. Every day is different - there are no two days the same.”

As a Level Two TA, David supports pupils with a range of lessons and activities. This ranges from classroom-based sessions such as Maths, English and woodwork, to community-based activities such as swimming, trampolining, travel training and independent living skills.

“What I really want to do is promote as much independence and learning for the pupils that we support, to help them gain knowledge and skills that will improve their lives forever,” David says. 

Every single child has some ability to develop and each one is unique. When they actually master a skill, it’s fantastic. They go home buzzing, and it’s so rewarding for us as staff.

While David had previous experience in the health and social care sector, he was new to the field of education. However he says he felt prepared by the Society’s five-day induction programme, as well as the regular training that is on offer for employees.

He says: “The training also gives you an understanding of where you are as a person. Your knowledge base could be different to your colleagues and that works really well in a school environment because everyone has their own key skills. Some people, like me, might be really good at history and others might be really good at woodwork, and we all work together so the pupils get a wide range of knowledge.”

Asked what his advice would be to anyone considering a career with the North East Autism Society, David adds: “If you’ve got the skills and you want to help young people, then don’t worry, there’s loads and loads of help available.

And if you really think you would make a difference to a child’s life then you should definitely, definitely have a go because you can do something that that child will remember for the rest of its life. Just do it.

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