After rising through the North East Autism Society (NEAS) in her five-year career, Rae Markham is keen to make sure new staff have the same opportunities to progress.

The Registered Manager at Tunstall Children’s Residential Home in Sunderland started at the Society in 2019, after a chance encounter in her previous job at Lush.

“There was a lady used to come in called Fiona, she came in with her support staff, and for ages I used to think ‘that’s a nice job,’” Rae said.

It was like a lightbulb moment. I was like, ‘if that’s such a nice job, why don’t I go and do that job?’

Rae, who had recently graduated from university with a degree in psychology with childhood studies, initially wanted to work with children, and successfully applied for a role at Wallingford Children’s Residential.

After a year at NEAS, Rae was keen to take on more responsibilities, and said: “I was looking to progress, I was ready for a new adventure and new challenge.”

Promotion took Rae from working with children to working in one of NEAS’ adult residential care homes, where she worked for another year in the new environment, before she was offered a place as assistant manager at Braemar Gardens Children’s Residential, where she worked with Registered Manager Julie Dunlop.

Rae said: “She was a fabulous manager, we’re still very close now and she still gives me lots of advice and help. She taught me everything while I was there.

“And then the role for manager at Tunstall came up and I thought ‘I’ve got to go for it and see what happens.’ I went for it, and got it, and now I’m there as manager,” she added.

Now she’s in a leadership role, Rae is keen for her staff to have the same opportunities she had.

“I’ve got people on my team now who I know want to progress in the future, and that’s so important to me because the people who come in the doors now as residential child carers could in five years’ time be the managers.”

I would recommend it to anyone, even if you haven’t got any experience, you get loads of training, there are loads of extra opportunities, and you can really take your career here as far as you want.

Rae isn’t looking to move on from Tunstall anytime soon, and now wants to spend time making the house a welcoming home for the children and young people there, as well as building her team.

Rae said: “I love this charity, I’ve been here five years and I have no plans to leave, because I’ve got such a good village and support network around me here, and that’s important.”

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