Dedicated Donna takes good care
30 Oct 2023
Donna from Stockport is the epitome of warm-hearted kindness. Excelling in her new job as a carer at a residential home for people with dementia, she volunteers her spare time at a local hospital. She’s also the primary carer for her father and an elderly family friend. Helped into work by the Working Well (Work and Health Programme) after a tortuous two years, there’s nothing she likes more than making people smile.
Yet Donna herself had little to smile about back in 2021 when recurrent shoulder pain was impacting her job in a busy bakery. Subsequently diagnosed with a crushed disk, her problems became much more than a pain in the neck as she was forced to leave work or risk permanent paralysis in the event of a further injury before surgery. Covid-related medical delays resulted in being unemployed for two years and struggling with her mental health and finances.
“I’m prone to anxiety and depression, and the constant delays, pain, and money worries piled up,” says Donna, 49, from Hazel Grove. “After two major operations in 2022, I was eager to retrain and find work, but had absolutely no confidence or idea where to start.”
Donna was referred to Ingeus for help and met her “simply amazing” keyworker, Wendy. As an advisor on the Working Well (Work and Health Programme) Wendy was able to provide all the personalised health, wellbeing and employability support Donna needed to move forward. From reducing anxiety, confidence-building and relaxation groups, to customer service, IT and teacher training, they explored all the options to happily move Donna back into work. Instrumental though, was Wendy’s suggestion that Donna volunteer to gain some social and employment skills. After signing up as a ward help at Stepping Hill Hospital, Donna realised her true vocation was to care for others.
“I get so much enjoyment from it, being smiley and cheerful, sprinkling a little fairy dust in someone’s difficult day,” continues Donna, who enjoys crochet and meditation to help unwind. “I’m going to continue my hospital volunteering alongside my new job as a care home healthcare assistant. My aim is to gain my Level 3 Health and Social Care qualification and move to a senior carer position.
“I couldn’t have done any of this without Wendy, she was always there for me, checking in, looking at every option for me, and helping me tackle my self-doubt. I always had the goal to return to work, but often thought I might not make it. I’m in such a happier place now. It’s important not to give up, no matter what, and having Ingeus at my back certainly helped me push on.”
The Working Well (Work and Health Programme) runs in Greater Manchester, supporting residents with disabilities and health conditions into work. An initiative from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, it is delivered by Ingeus and partners across the region and provides holistic support for participants struggling to gain employment.