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Children and young people

Deborah Johnson

My name is Deborah Johnson. I’m a community support assistant at West Fife Community Support Services. I support young people with learning disabilities.

I’ve had a varied career including secretarial work and complementary therapies. I worked part time for 15 years while I raised my family. I used to feel people would think I was lazy but they didn’t realise what I’d overcome or achieved. My kids were thriving because I was putting them first. Now, when I tell people I’m working full time with young adults with disabilities, I feel eyebrows are raised like they’re impressed or maybe I just feel a little bit prouder of what I do.

Every day at work there is a heart melting moment. I supported a young man with limited speech to go cycling and for a woodland walk and he said ‘happy!’ to his mum when he got home. These moments make me remember how much I love working here and feel like I’m making a difference.

One thing I found difficult at the start was being the ‘newbie’. Most colleagues were extremely supportive but I had to earn the respect of some.

Sometimes I need to challenge negative attitudes from others but I always remember that having a good day for the people I support is my priority. It’s not all sunshine and roses and I can’t be complacent – it’s a complex job and I’m responsible for people’s safety.

When I started, I attended various training sessions. This included moving and handling and adult protection. I’m waiting to complete my SVQ Social Services and Healthcare and look forward to gaining this as well as the ongoing training I need to do to keep my knowledge up to date.

I’m like the advert and ‘still winning’ because no matter what barriers I face I still love what I’m doing. Every day is an adventure with inspirational people and a chance to further my own personal journey too.

I’m growing as a person and it’s opened my eyes to a parallel universe. I’m growing as a person and it’s opened my eyes to a parallel universe. I’ve discovered never to underestimate someone who has a disability.

I now see the world through different eyes, like being more confident smiling at someone using a wheelchair or noticing whether a place has disabled access.

I enjoy being active and I’m discovering places I didn’t know existed.

The big secret is – it’s easier working full time with a team of people than on your own at home with kids!

I would say to someone considering a career like this, if you want to make a difference then go for it! You need to be caring, have good morals and be willing to get stuck in and be prepared to learn, including completing an SVQ. I think back to my own interview and how my future employers said they believed in me, despite starting this career journey in my 40s. I had the values, attitude, passion and enthusiasm they were looking for.

Deborah on a stage with a young person

Sometimes I feel like I’m working with elite humans like the X-Men with super powers.

Deborah Johnson Community support assistant