Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Helen Holland, Labour Councillor for Hartcliffe and Withywood and Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care.
I was chatting to a local resident over the weekend who was telling me that his job disappeared at the beginning of the pandemic, but that he is now working as a Blood Delivery Driver. Then on one of my regular walks the other day, I saw an advertising hoarding with the fabulous #changelives campaign from BrunelCare, showing Ellie, one of their new recruits who has gone from Cabin Crew to careworker.
Two things occurred to me, one, that Covid has made everyone see what many of us already knew, that jobs in Health and Social Care are absolutely vital to us all, to our communities and to our economy, and secondly, that changing career, sometimes of necessity, sometimes by choice, really can open your eyes to new possibilities.
Working with our care providers, training organisations like the City of Bristol College, Skills for Care and the trade unions, we are determined to raise the profile of occupations in care, and make sure that we have the best workforce that we can as we move towards the post-Corona Virus world. Through our commissioning framework we are embedding our commitment to better terms and conditions for careworkers, and making sure that employees have access to training.
We also are working to strengthen community organisations who often provide the glue – through local activities, things like walking groups, choirs, knit and natter groups – that stick neighbourhoods together, and keep residents from isolation, and able to live in their own homes for longer.
I want to see a pathway too for people who find that they love working with people in those local organisations to open the door to care work, as one thing that is now more obvious to some, is that whatever advances there are in ‘tech enabled care’ we will always need people in these vital services.
It has been so rewarding to see that we have been able to attract more people into home care, and into social work, over the last year, and we want to see that continue.
While I am writing, I also want to mention the “We work for Everyone” project Ways to Work website for which the City Council with the other West of England authorities have won £2.2m from European Social Funds, and £1.2m from WECA to deliver employment and training opportunities for people with learning disabilities and Autism.
Having worked in this field for many years myself, I am absolutely passionate about this project, and the chance for people to fulfil their potential through work. It is shocking that nationally only 5.7% of people with a learning disability are in work and we are going to do all we can to change that. We have some fantastic organisations in the city who already have a great deal of experience of doing this, with some brilliant results. I want to draw that experience into this project, to really make the best of the additional money. With navigators to support the work, we also want to hear from businesses who are keen to give everyone these opportunities, so please get in touch.