It was a while ago now - I was studying at Teesside University, doing Childhood and Youth Studies. I applied to MAIN just to get some experience.
On my course we were doing a module on autism and I wanted to expand my knowledge in that area. MAIN was the obvious choice to give me a better understanding of the spectrum and what it’s like for the people who live with it.
In my first role I was part of the outreach team, delivering the clubs most evenings and doing ‘PA’ 1:1 outreach support at the weekend. I did it all around my studies - I was busy then, and it hasn’t changed since!
I was offered a full-time role when we received a referral for a child who’d been excluded from school and MAIN needed someone to support them at a 1:1 level. I was meant to be starting my teaching degree, but this seemed like an opportunity not to be missed, so I deferred a year. In the end, I never went back to university - I was happy at MAIN. I was promoted to service team assistant in March 2019 then service team coordinator in September that same year. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since - managing all the ‘PA’ 1:1 outreach support work – taking in all the new referrals and assigning the right member of staff to them. To be honest my job role changes everyday, it's something you just have to adapt to haha!
There’s no day the same, literally! It’s knowing that you’re helping people and giving families the support that you need.
I wish we had more funding and staff so we could help even more people. Right now we have referrals coming in left, right and centre and I wish we could help everyone on the waiting list for our services.
I think it’s one of those charities that goes the extra mile for families. During lockdown we did everything we could to make sure families didn’t go into crisis. Every member of staff gives their all to make sure that we’re giving the best support possible. For me, MAIN is like a second home – I spend more time here!
I’ve learned loads! I think on this job you’re learning 24/7. There’s not a day when you don’t find something new, and you all learn from each other.
The boy I helped early on was attending a mainstream school but hadn’t been involved in schoolwork for about a year. It was a challenge for me, I’d never done it before. After only a few days, we built a relationship and had real rapport. He taught me how he learned. We worked around his interests, and did fun things where he was learning without realising. He was with me for about six months then got a place in a specialist school, where he still is. He engages so much more now in social groups, he participates. He comes to our clubs from time to time and it’s really nice to see him.
Seeing friends and family, on a Friday or Saturday night, we go for a walk or grab a drink and put the world to rights.
I love Australia – it’s exactly how you imagine it to be! It’s the most adventurous place, the beaches are so clean and fresh, it’s a lovely place. Bali is on my bucket list.