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Andrea takes on a fresh challenge with a change of career

Andrea takes on a fresh challenge with a change of career

Andrea who attended the Forwards Work Club was interviewed by Action on Disability and Work UK….

Over recent months we have been working with Andrea to provide advice on her work situation and discuss options for a change of career and we’re delighted to hear that she has just started a new job.

This year, Andrea says, “I made a decision to have a new challenge and I applied for a role with PING (Physical Inclusion Network Gloucester) as an Expert by Experience Quality Checker. I’ve recently started in my new job, which is an opportunity to use my own experience in a different capacity.”

PING is commissioned by Gloucestershire County Council to carry out quality checks at residential homes and supported living settings across the county. These checks are to ensure that disabled people who live in these settings are safe, healthy and happy and that the care they receive is appropriate to their needs.

PING has an excellent policy of ensuring that these checks are peer-led, which means that someone with experience of a long term health condition or impairment will talk to people during these checks and put their findings into the final report. This is called an Expert by Experience, which is the new role that Andrea has just started. Often disabled people find it easier to talk to someone who has experience and insight into what life may be like for them. Andrea commented that she was drawn to working in this area after talking through career options with Paul Davey, one of our Work Solutions Advisors. Paul mentioned that our own work here at ADWUK is based on a peer-support model, which means that all of our advice team are disabled people themselves and can bring that understanding and experience into the support they provide. As Paul says: “Andrea and I built a really trusting rapport, based upon a shared understanding of what she wanted to achieve, why it was so important to her and how she wanted to go about it. It is fantastic to know now that Andrea has been able to move into this new role, which really motivates and inspires her. Andrea is going to be able to draw upon both her professional skills and personal experiences as a disabled person and I believe that she is going on go on to inspire others through her work. ”

Over the summer, Andrea attended the Forwards Job Club in Cheltenham, which she found very helpful and it was through the job club that she heard about the advertisement for the Expert by Experience job and decided to apply.

Vicci Livingstone-Thompson, PING’s Managing Director told us: ‘At PING it is really important that we are run by disabled people for disabled people. We are thrilled to have Andrea on the team as she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the quality checking work that we do, along with a fantastic, friendly personality. We feel very lucky to have found Andrea and I know that she will make a real difference to the people we work with.’

At the moment Andrea says it’s a busy time, as she’s training up for the new role and there’s lots to take in. She’s also combining it with a voluntary position as a member of the Advisory Board of the National Star College in Cheltenham. She attended the college herself as a student in the 1980’s and being on the board is again an opportunity to share her experience and contribute to the lives of other disabled people.

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"Gloucestershire shows the way Forwards for people with a disability"