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Magical partnerships in his new career

Ashley is married with 3 grown up children, and for the past 30 years has been working as a professional magician. Ashley has worked at holiday centres, on cruise ships and been in panto, and recently made the leap into care work as a support worker for Charlie.

Ashley joined Lifeways in 2018 with no previous experience of supporting people or social care qualifications. When asked if that put him off applying, he says: “I was looking for something that would make me feel useful again. My kids are adults now, they don’t really need me and I really enjoy problem-solving. I realised I could transfer the skills I acquired as a performer and a parent to social care, and maybe make a difference in someone’s life.

Working with the people we support is like solving multiple puzzles at once. Take Charlie for instance - I realised that the sounds Charlie was making had meaning and just spent some time listening and watching him to see what they meant. I quickly learnt that he really enjoys music, if I woke Charlie by singing he was happy and would be happy to get up, dressed and join in with others. When it’s time to go for a walk I sing ‘we’re off to see the wizard’ and Charlie joins in and is happy to go out. We’ve made lots of progress in a short amount of time. It’s amazing to connect with him like this and we have made a really special bond.

Support work fits in really well with my home life and Lifeways are really flexible. I am scaling back on the performing as I am no longer finding it fulfilling. It feels like it’s the right time to give back to my local community and the people we support. The reward I felt when I first made a connection with Charlie was brilliant and I want to carry on to see where this career takes me.”

We asked Ashley if there was anything he didn’t like about the job and he laughed and said: “Paperwork, but really who would rather do paperwork when you could be out singing with Charlie!”

The role of a support worker

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