Jodie Redhead had never worked with children before she joined NEAS 10 years ago. Now she can’t imagine doing anything else. 

Jodie, 33, has worked as a care support assistant, Level 2 teaching assistant, and school safeguarding officer since she started at NEAS in 2014.

She says: “The best bit of the job is the children, they’re absolutely brilliant. When you see what they achieve day to day, and all the hurdles they have overcome, you just feel so proud of them.

“You don’t realise it, but on a daily basis you’re changing lives. What could be better than that?”

Jodie was a domiciliary carer and had worked with adults with learning disabilities before she applied for a job at NEAS-run Cedar House, a children’s residential home which was recently declared “outstanding” by Ofsted.

She was worried about her lack of experience with autistic children but was soon reassured by the amount of support she got from NEAS.

The training is absolutely amazing,” she says. “You get all the tools when you start, and then they continue to offer further opportunities. If there’s something you want to do, they’ll find a way to get you that training.

“I’ve done my NVQ in health and social care, my Level 2 Teaching Assistant training, I’m working on Level 3, I’ve done a Designated Safeguarding Lead course, and training in things like trauma and counselling. I like to expand my knowledge and offer as much as I can.”

Jodie spent eight years at Cedar House near Newton Aycliffe before applying to be a Level 2 TA at Aycliffe school because she wanted a fresh challenge.

She says: “It broke my heart to leave Cedar House because I felt like I grew up with those children. But when I came to Aycliffe school, I got to see the same young people here.

“With it being a specialist school, you support pupils with independent living. So you’ll go out on public transport, you’ll go on trips, you might take them shopping. It’s constantly encouraging those next steps and helping them progress.”

After two years as a TA, the job of safeguarding officer came up at Aycliffe and Jodie was ready for another adventure. “I’m passionate about safeguarding, and I felt I knew a lot about it and could put my knowledge out there to help other people,” she explains.

At first, I was nervous because I didn’t want to lose the good relationships I’d made with the pupils in my class. But if anything, they’ve got stronger. My office has a revolving door – they will come in for a chat and tell me what they’ve been up to.

Jodie’s job involves actioning safeguarding concerns and delivering training, attending meetings to support pupils’ needs, weekly mental health drop-in sessions with pupils, and welfare support for staff. 

It’s her third job at the Society and she says she has loved every one. She would recommend a career at NEAS to anyone thinking about joining.

“It’s a really good place to learn and gain new skills,” she says. “And it is really supportive and it cares. I love talking to other people at NEAS and hearing about people I supported when they were a child – it’s lovely to celebrate their achievements.”

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