An apprentice at 50, Shelly can’t believe how good she feels

Shelly, is a bubbly bright Support worker who takes huge pride in her role and the difference she makes every day to the lives of people she supports at Holland House, a Consensus service which provides support for people with Prader-Willi Syndrome.

Eighteen months ago, Shelly had reached the big 50 and had taken time away from her role of 17 years as a cleaner at the local school. She supported a neighbour in caring for their husband having been diagnosed with a terminal illness. She provided care, companionship, help with end of life care and ensured the gentleman passed in the way he and his wife had hoped. The experience changed Shelly’s life as she began to consider what else she might do in her life. She felt the calling to do something else, use her caring and compassionate nature to benefit others, not just those to whom she was closest.

A dear friend suggested a career in care and helped Shelly to create a CV and apply for several roles in the care sector. Shelly knew she had no experience on paper or qualifications in care and was accepting when responses were not forthcoming. However she persisted and applied for a role as a support worker with Consensus. Having been accepted for interview and gaining the role she says what persuaded her to take the job was that Consensus were giving her a chance, an opportunity to use her skills and values to care for others.

After only six months in post Shelly knew that this role was one she loved and she wanted to be able to learn as much as she could to support people better. Shelly had lived most of her life believing she could never do something like working in care because she was “too thick” (her words) but now at 18 months in post she has just completed her NVQ Level 2 apprenticeship in Health and Social Care.

Lisa, her manager describes her proudly as an excellent member of the team.

An NVQ via apprenticeship was the ideal way for Shelly to learn as she was able to learn whilst working, and get paid. The flexibility of the assessors helped too, with them providing support the whole way through even when Shelly found it a little daunting. As a part of the course Shelly was required to complete Maths and English exams, something she had not studied since her school days but the learning team were available for Shelly throughout meeting her, calling her and offering encouragement. The coursework covered health and social care, first aid and planning trips amongst other topics.

Having just completed her NVQ Shelly is buzzing, she feels more confident, competent and says her self-esteem has gone through the roof. She is eager to get going on her NVQ Level 3, something she had never thought she would hear herself say!

When asked how she feels now after changing career and learning later in life Shelly says; “I can’t believe how good I feel in myself, I feel such a huge amount of pride. My family are so proud of me.

“No two days are ever the same and to be a part of a team that make a difference to people’s lives, I feel so proud. I leave work feeling like I’ve achieved something, even if it is one small smile, I am putting something back into the community.”

Carolyn Long, Skills Tutor for Qube Learning, who provide Consensus with their Apprenticeship Programmes was only too pleased to provide feedback about Shelly’s Level 2 Apprenticeship;

“Throughout her course Shelly has maintained such a positive attitude. Despite targets being set alongside internal training and supported individuals needs she has completed assignments to a very good standard and overcome her “fear” of IT!


“It was brilliant to hear that she is now eager to complete her level 3 award, a few months ago when asked about this, her reply was “no way”.  She was one of my shining stars.”

Consensus was established to provide specialist support to adults with learning disabilities and complex needs.



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