Cath Todd has been with NEAS for 34 years – but swears it feels like yesterday that she joined as a care assistant at No. 21 residential home in Sunderland.

“It’s gone in a flash really, but it’s been massively rewarding to be able to make a difference to people’s lives,” Cath says.

I’ve been here a long time but there are always new challenges, new training and opportunities to think of different ways to do things. I would never consider doing anything else.

Cath now manages Brentwood adult residential care home in Sunderland and has mentored a whole generation of care support assistants, some of whom are now managers themselves.

She studied English and History at Sunderland University and her first job after graduating was with the National Children’s Home working with at-risk children in the city.

When she joined NEAS, she didn’t have much experience of autism but says she – and NEAS – are much better at understanding and supporting neurodivergent people now. “I try to remember how I felt, seeing different types of behaviour for the first time.

“I didn’t fully understand it then, but I do now, and we all need to appreciate that there may be a very good reason why someone is behaving in a particular way.”

Cath worked at No. 21, No. 24 and Meldan before going to Brentwood, and was thrilled to see NEAS transition to small, family-style residential homes. "It wasn't traditional care any more. We got to know people really well and could see them change - it was a real motivator,” she says.

Brentwood is home to four young adult service-users, and Cath manages 10 staff who help them experience as many opportunities as possible, including meals out, walks in the park, trampolining sessions, trips to the cinema, theatre, shops, or the pub.

“It’s about helping them to live their best possible lives.”

She has no hesitation in recommending a career at NEAS, whether it’s someone just starting out or stuck in a job where they don’t feel fulfilled.

“If you want to look back on your life and know that you’ve done something special, then I’d certainly think about applying to NEAS,” she says.

It’s an organisation that cares in every sense, with genuine family values right from the top, and I’ve always felt well looked after as an employee.

“In return, the people who work for NEAS are so passionate about what they do. They’re not just here to pick up their pay-packets, they’re in it because they want to make a difference.”

And for those who do join, they’ll be sure to come across Cath, who has no plans to retire just yet. “I suppose I’m still enjoying it too much,” she smiles.

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