JAN Patterson’s team in Family Support provides outreach support for children, young people, adults and their families.

With support packages tailored to the needs and interests of each individual, a typical day could be taking someone swimming, supporting them to get dressed independently or helping them to access computer games.

The whole family is consulted about what bespoke activities will be offered, from the young people themselves to their siblings and their parents or carers. Schools, social workers and venues also contribute.

“No matter what you read about autism, autistic people are their own person and have different qualities and skills,” says Jan, who is Area Manager for North of Tyne.

We give them the chance to do their own thing. Having that break really helps them.

It helps the family, too, especially if there are siblings who may feel they are pushed to the side at times.

Jan’s team of Activity Support Assistants come from a huge variety of backgrounds and have different skills. “It both brings us together and makes us unique,” she says.

And, while it can help, professional experience in health and social care or working with autistic and/or neurodivergent people is not a requirement for applicants.

Instead, Jan looks for transferable skills, including problem-solving, communication skills, being able to work autonomously, flexibility, reliability and having a positive attitude. Her team includes people who previously held positions in call centres and retail.

New staff get a week-long induction to the Society, followed by e-learning and the opportunity to shadow experienced members of staff, which gives them confidence going into the role.

Sometimes things might not go to plan in this job, but when you see the reward at the end of it, it makes up for it.

“I love hearing staff give feedback on how good their day has been, or parents saying how appreciative they are. It makes me proud to work for an organisation like this.”

The Family Support team are currently recruiting for Activity Support Assistants to join their ranks.

View our current vacancies