We are sharing stories of how working in residential care can transform lives. By sharing the stories of the people who work in residential care we hope to offer an insight into the skills and experiences of our team and why they are well placed to offer therapeutic care to our children and young people.
Kathleen is our Residential Services Leader but she describes herself as Chief Cup of Tea Maker, which is indeed a very useful skill!
How long have you been working or volunteering at Carolina House Trust?
Since July 2019.
How long have you been supporting young people in one way or another? How do you do this?
Formally, since I was at school aged 16 (circa 1995 ) through youth clubs, mentoring etc. Professionally, since 2001.
Now I care for the team at Tarvit so that they can care for the young people.
What skills do you bring to the team?
Wow, what a hard question – I have a breadth of experience of different cultures within care so I bring an understanding of supporting growth, and how scary that can be. I also would say one of my core skills is being able to be alongside a team and young people in crises; and how sometimes dark and difficult emotions can impact us. The Foster Care Team Manager describes me as an influencer because of the energy I can create. It’s probably one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.
What is your CHT or residential care career highlight?
There have been too many to mention and I’d hate for a young person to read this and think that our time together wasn’t the highlight, because each day is just as fabulous as the last, and the next.
Have you had a low point? How did you overcome it?
Lots of low points, sad times, what felt like unsurpassable moments but I’m still here, it’s still my passion and my first love.
What would you change about residential care?
The mixed market economy of care, there’s far too many people benefiting financially. What intended to bring greater flexibility to design services to meet needs has actually created a profit monster. Also my blue sky thinking – if the government could pay off our student loans for Social Work degrees then we could afford to keep developing the sector further academically.
What has been the funniest moment of your CHT or residential care career?
My 2014/15 team were full of practical jokers and in turn the kids developed great creativity around this, it was beautiful to see the assimilation take place.
What do you enjoy doing when you have some time to yourself?
I love me time. In character I’m an omnivert, so while I love being in groups it takes a lot of energy out of me so I really enjoy my own company too. Every day at work I’m absorbing peoples emotions and trying to give them back to them in a way that they can manage them. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, so me time is important to process anything I’ve held onto. I’ll walk, consider pottering to the gym, watch far too many police procedural dramas and potter some more.
My favourite place in the world is an ecumenical community in France called the Taize community. I lived there in my early 20’s and we are still connected now 20+ years later. I join them online on a Saturday evening as often as I can. My faith remains central to my life.
What do you think is unique about Tarvit Cottage that supports young people in our care?
I’ve worked in many teams over the decades, and managed teams since 2014 and this is probably the most balanced group in terms of skills and personalities. They’ve been through a lot and it’s created connections of empathy and care that will last beyond their careers. What is unique, as a manager is the untapped potential. These guys are brave, bold, mischief makers, adventurers, spirited entertainers and explorers of the world.