John Astley has worked in social care for 21 years and prior to that he worked for the local authority in St. Helens, running a homeless hostel for 5 years.
When the hostel was closed down in 1999, John was redeployed and he chose to work in mental health. Now John is a senior support worker at Yorkshire Gardens, maintaining and running the mental health rehabilitation unit for 7 service users.
Like many of his colleagues, John’s favourite part of his job is seeing the people he cares for develop. “We supported a military veteran for about 6 months a few years ago. He progressed to live independently and cope with his PTSD. Seeing him move into his flat with a network of support to fall back on was inspiring for all of the team”.
Male carers make up a small percentage of the social care sector, something that John thinks needs to change. “Communication is more difficult for men suffering with mental health issues; sadly, this is reflected in the suicide figures we see on the news."
"In my experience of running men’ s groups, I have seen the benefit of men interacting with other males, both peers and professionals, with the way they open up to each other over a period of time ”.
With over 21 years in social care, John has a wealth of advice for anyone looking to work in the sector. “The advice I was given over 20 years ago was to just listen. You will hear bits of yourself from time to time, and it is so precious to be able to support someone with your experience. I started as a volunteer and continue to do that even now. So I would advise any man considering going into social care to volunteer and see how rewarding it can be”.
“It has been my experience that in social care roles, it is mainly women that work in these roles and conversely it is mainly men that use the services for mental health. So it is vital that some balance occurs in the coming years”.
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