After leaving school at 16, Katie Liddle knew she wanted to work in care, and it was at the North East Autism Society (NEAS) she found the potential beginning of a career.

Katie, now 19, is still in her first year at NEAS, working as a care support assistant in a residential care home in Sunderland, where she helps the three adults living there to lead as fulfilling and independent lives as possible.

“It’s different every day,” Katie says. “Every adult will be different, it can be challenging, but it’s also really rewarding.”

The rewarding moments in the home are especially poignant to Katie, who was inspired to pursue a career in care by her mam.

“My mam was actually a carer for about 29 years, and it’s something I’ve just always wanted to take on.”

Katie started working in a care home for the elderly at 17 and hadn’t worked with autistic adults before, but was drawn to NEAS due to experiences supporting her young autistic cousin, which helped her understand the needs of autistic people.

“You’ve just got to kind of take a step back and realise, from his shoes, how something would affect him,” she says.

Helping home residents access the community, stay active, and do activities they enjoy is an important part of Katie’s role, and one that she takes pride in.

She says:

As a person, it’s knowing that you’re caring for someone else and making someone else’s life better.

“We go on walks every day, we’re always out,” She adds, and this extends to well beyond the Sunderland home.

“We’ve been to Keswick, and two of our residents are going to the Lake District again. We go everywhere pretty much. It’s fun to see them happy, doing what they want to do.”

NEAS’ one week induction and training course gave Katie extra confidence on the job and got her thinking about her future career with the Society, where she says she would maybe like to progress into management one day.

“The tutors definitely encourage you to go for the bigger picture, it’s really good honestly.”

The training covers introductions to autism and neurodiversity, first aid, and safeguarding, and helps ensure every new starter in NEAS gets off on the right foot, no matter what previous experience they have.

For anyone looking to make their start in a career in care with NEAS, Katie has just one piece of advice:

Just go for it, especially if it’s something you’ve always dreamed of, it’s just the most rewarding job you could ever do, especially at a young age.

“It makes you grow up really fast, but in a good way.”

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