After ten years working as a teaching assistant, Janine Mounsey took a leap of faith and changed career after seeing a role at NEAS advertised on Facebook.

Just over a year later, the 42-year-old mum from Birtley is thriving as an Activity Support Assistant at the North East Autism Society’s Adult Short Breaks service.

Adult Short Breaks at New Warlands Farm offers supported getaways in the Durham countryside for autistic and neurodivergent adults.

“You never know what you’re going to be up to on that day,” says Janine.

Activities are person-centred and decisions are led by the individual, with staff supporting to encourage visitors to make the most of their breaks and experience new things.

Janine says:

Depending on who you’re with, you could be out and about all day or you could have someone who prefers to do in-Lodge activities.

“We read the care plan to find out exactly what kind of activities they like to do, and then we tend to base it off that.”

Day trips to local destinations are a popular choice of activity, as are crafts, and swimming, but activities can be as varied as an individual guest wants.

"Have fun," Janine says, "That way you know the adults are going to enjoy it as well.”

“We’ll quite often have trips to Beamish, or the seaside, we did Tynemouth Aquarium, and Butterfly World at Preston Park’s a popular one, they really like that.”

Once back in the Lodges for the evening, visitors and staff will often prepare meals together, but eating out is also an option.

“Some adults like to go out, or go to the pub,” says Janine.

Despite all her enjoyment of the role, Janine does it for one reason:

“It is all for the people we support. They motivate me to want to be better, and to provide better activities for them.”

Working at New Warlands Farm, just fifteen minutes away from Durham City, is another highlight of the role for Janine.

“In the summer it’s brilliant,” Janine says, “It’s very pretty and we’ve got all the wildlife as well. It’s not like any of the other NEAS sites, it’s just amazing, I love it.”

Janine advises anyone in a similar position to her and looking for a new career to take the plunge.

She says: “Do it, absolutely. It can be a bit scary to take that leap of faith, but especially coming to the Lodges, we have so much fun.

“No day is the same and it’s a fabulous place to work, we’ve got a great team.”

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