“Apprenticeships aren’t just for school leavers,” says support worker Natasha

February 2024 · min read

A support worker in Wigan Accommodation Services is proving it’s never too late to improve your career with an apprenticeship.

Natasha Diallo Our Space News

Natasha Diallo, who is 46 and lives in Leigh, has recently completed the first year of a Level 2 Diploma in Care at Wigan & Leigh College. The married mother of three says the flexible nature of the apprenticeship meant that she was able to complete the qualification while caring for her family and working night shifts in Making Space supported living services.

And, as well as boosting her career prospects, Natasha’s commitment to her apprenticeship has been recognised with an award from the college.

“I’ve worked with Making Space for three and a half years and I really love my job,” says Natasha. “This is my first job as a care and support worker, my last job was in a charity shop. But although caring is something that’s always come naturally to me, the apprenticeship has taught me there’s so much more to consider when caring for people professionally.

“Everyone is different and it’s so important to listen, observe and support people in the way that’s best for them. The apprenticeship gives you all this knowledge and, because you’re learning as you’re working, you can immediately use it to benefit the people you’re supporting.”

Natasha works with people living with mental health issues, and is on hand throughout the night to help with any problems they may be facing. “Sometimes people come to me because they can’t sleep, often it’s just simply to chat,” says Natasha.

“My work also involves a lot of reporting and auditing – it’s very important that when we hand over to the next team, they have all the information they need. The apprenticeship covers all of this, and more.”

Despite her busy schedule, Natasha says that the work involved in the apprenticeship doesn’t pile on the pressure. “I think a lot of people still think an apprenticeship involves sitting in a classroom one day a week with school or college leavers,” she says.

“Obviously there are tasks and assignments to complete, but you don’t have a fixed schedule. I’m not saying it doesn’t involve hard work! But all my work is downloaded and then I’ll share it with my supervisor and she’ll go through it and ask questions to make sure I’m clear about everything I’ve learned – it’s all very thorough. But I can work around my shifts and family time, and my supervisor always makes time to see me to go through my work and help with any issues I may be having.”

Natasha also has the full backing of Making Space – in fact, it was her manager who suggested she complete the apprenticeship. “My manager has been amazing,” says Natasha. “When I first started work, she really encouraged me and suggested the apprenticeship after I’d completed my Making Space training. I didn’t think it would be for me but said I’d give it a shot, and I loved it.”

The formal knowledge Natasha has gained through the apprenticeship has not only allowed her to improve the care she provides – it’s also earned her an award from the college. “My teacher gave a report to Making Space informing them that I’d won an award, which I’ll be collecting at a formal ceremony later this month.

“After that, Making Space has offered to support me to complete the Level 3 certificate in Health and Social Care. I’m so surprised with the way things have turned out, I left the charity shop to work with Making Space and now I’m climbing the career ladder. Who knows, I may even be a manager myself one day!

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity, and if there’s one message I’d like to share it’s that you’re never too old to learn something new. Sometimes you really don’t know what you’re capable of until you try it!”

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