Scott, a Home Support Worker, and young person Albie share their experiences of the Barnardo’s Link Plus service - which offers opportunities for young disabled children to participate in fun activities - and what they enjoy about their weekends together.
Home Support Worker
Albie finds doing simple physical tasks such as tying shoelaces or reading text very challenging, but thanks to Barnardo’s Brighton and Hove Link Plus service, which provides short-break sessions to children and young people with disabilities, Albie has been able to benefit from a Home Support Worker who helps him participate in fun and exciting activities at weekends.
Albie is a young person who has Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere syndrome, a progressive neurological condition that affects his balance and impairs his vision and hearing. For him to experience independence, he needs to receive continuous support with his mobility. Together with Scott, his Home Support Worker, his is able to enjoy being a teenager. As part of the Link Plus service, Albie and Scott spend their weekends exploring new activities together, from cycling to paddleboarding.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to have fun, and services like Link Plus, ensure that young disabled people get those opportunities too. With the extra support of Scott, Albie is able to try new things and build new skills.
Albie tells us, “When I first started having sessions with Barnardo’s I didn’t know what it would be like, but Scott is really fun and helps me participate in activities which I otherwise would struggle to do alone.”
Meet Scott, Albie's Home Support Worker
Scott was a first time Home Support Worker and he too was a little unsure about what it would be like. He tells us, “When I first met Albie, I was concerned communication would be a real challenge. Whilst he has a cochlear implant, he still finds it difficult to hear every part of a conversation. However, as our sessions progressed, the communication naturally improved. Sign language isn’t something I have learnt, but body language is something that most of us are able to do from a young age, and you would be surprised how much of a conversation can be covered by putting the emphasis on lip reading, body language, tone and focussing on essential parts of a sentence.”
Scott has really enjoyed his experience with Link Plus and would encourage anyone considering getting involved in supporting young people to give it a go. Scott explains, “I decided to get involved with Barnardo’s Link Plus service because I wanted to do something a bit different at weekends to complement my weekday communications role at Barnardo’s where I largely work from home.”
What's it like being a Home Support Worker?
“I think a lot of people still assume they need to have parental experience and ideally have children of their own in order to work with young people. The reality is it’s far more important to possess universal human skills and to be able to relate and communicate effectively," Scott says.
“I also don’t believe you need to have a specific background to be a Home Support Worker; it just takes a willingness to look back at your younger self and think about all the fun activities and opportunities you were able to benefit from. That’s a key reason why I enjoy my weekend sessions with Albie. It’s rewarding to help someone experience the activities that I have often taken for granted. I’ve been able to see Albie develop his confidence and stamina.”
"It’s a partnership based on friendship”
As part of Link Plus, the pair arrange to do activities together at the weekends. This can range from adventurous outdoors activities to taking short-break trips, or just hanging out playing Uno or taking Albie’s dog Teddy for a walk in the park. Every weekend is different, but the pair decide on the activities that interest and suit them.
“The great thing about Barnardo’s Link Plus service,” Scott says, “is that each Home Support Worker is suitably matched with a young person based on their needs, interests and experience.”
Scott really values the time he spends with Albie and recognises all the ways it improves his life as well. “Albie’s really into aviation, science, physics and astronomy – so our conversations are wide-ranging and fascinating. He helps improve my rather limited knowledge of these areas and on the flip side I’m able to give him tips on how to develop his paddleboarding skills or just some advice about how to navigate a challenge. It’s a partnership based on friendship.”
Albie also appreciates all the ways that spending time together with Scott brings him joy. “He makes me laugh, and I can make him laugh too with my jokes. We can talk about anything from Star Trek The Next Generation to the latest Virgin Galactic rocket launch. We enjoy playing Uno, but neither of us can agree on all the rules, so I suspect we both do a bit of cheating at times!”
Albie is hoping to continue his adventure, learning and experiencing new things with Scott thanks to Link Plus. “This year I did the Wave Project and learnt surfing which Scott arranged for me. I’m really enjoyed it. I think the best thing about Barnardo’s and the Link Plus service is that it tries to help as many children and young people in need as possible.”