My name is Sarah Franklin and I’ve worked for Helping Hands for more than five years. I joined Helping Hands because I really identified with the ethos that the company has for ensuring that people get to remain as independent as possible in their own homes, and I felt I wanted to be a part of something worthwhile. Since working for the company, I have had several different roles: firstly in the Learning & Development team and latterly in the Marketing team. I have been fortunate to have been offered opportunities to develop my skills and knowledge throughout my time with Helping Hands, not least in the area of dementia, which is something that is extremely important to me.
When I was young, I always wanted to be a nurse. I’ve always been determined to remain in touch with the caring professions and spent time working with people with learning disabilities and mental health difficulties in my younger years. I then worked in different industries and had spent many years in retail before I joined the local authority’s public library service in the mid-2000s. From there I had the opportunity to work as an adult learning tutor and I was proud to achieve my Diploma in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS), post-16 teaching qualification and QTLS professional formation. I worked in community education for several years and enjoyed it thoroughly, but due to redundancy I eventually found myself returning to retail as a trainer. I soon became disillusioned with retail again and was searching for a company that would make me feel I was making more of a difference, and it was then that I discovered Helping Hands, joining the L&D team in 2016.
I love working for Helping Hands and on my very first day with the business I remember thinking ‘this is the company I want to stay with for the rest of my career.’ There was just this energy of wanting to do the right thing that permeated everyone I met, and I truly believe that everyone who works here has the customers’ best interests at heart.
I’ve always been attracted to the caring professions, and even though I didn’t ultimately pursue nurse training, I was always interested in how I could spend my time in worthwhile pursuits and discover a caring element to every role I was in. For instance, whilst working in the library service I was based for several years at a satellite library in an area of pronounced social and economic deprivation. It quickly became clear to me that only a very small part of the role was going to be about loaning books; it was going to be much more about helping people to access benefits, get back into work, search for jobs, and develop their literacy and language skills. We would also support children who were living with troubled home lives, those who had been excluded from school and adults who were struggling with substance and alcohol abuse. I would also liaise with other community partners and healthcare professionals when necessary, such as social workers, carers and mental health advocates.
In other roles I would always try and develop my responsibilities to have some kind of holistic element too, such as when I worked in community education. I would try and support people who were struggling with their mental health or living with disabilities so that they would know who to talk to and how to access help when they needed it. Sometimes my roles in the community made me feel more like a social worker or mental health professional, but whatever the circumstances I was in, I would always do my best to ensure that the person was supported to the very best of my ability.
When I joined Helping Hands, I wasn’t terribly knowledgeable about dementia, but straight away I discovered it was a condition I was motivated to learn more about. Working as a trainer, delivering essential knowledge to our carers so that they could pass the Care Certificate and go out supporting our customers, was a job that I took very seriously. I felt that I was part of a team who were the last stop on a journey for our carers so that they would be fully prepared and confident to live-in or visit with our customers. Due to my experience delivering adult learning and my professional qualifications, I was asked to be involved in redesigning parts of the training, including what we delivered in our dementia sessions. I enjoyed the experience of doing this very much and was also given the opportunity to undertake a ‘Train the Trainer’ qualification with the Homecare Association.
Working for Helping Hands has meant I am able to access opportunities for professional development that I may not otherwise have had, and been able to meet customers, colleagues and attend events that have benefited me on both a personal and professional basis.
I now work in the Marketing department of the company writing content but also delivering dementia training to staff who wish to upskill themselves in this area.
Outside of my work-based activities I have enjoyed being involved in volunteer programmes for causes that are important to me, these include being a dementia friends’ champion for the Alzheimer’s Society, a mental health advocate for Time to Change, a befriender for Age UK, and a volunteer for animal welfare charities. My husband and I also set up and run a Community Interest Company called ‘Ending Loneliness’ which is dedicated to reducing loneliness and social isolation in older people and those struggling with mental health difficulties. I have also written and published three novels.
I have achieved a varied number of qualifications over the years, both academic and vocational. These include:
BA (Hons) in History and English
Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Studies in Education
Train the Trainer dementia qualification (Homecare Association)
Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning sector (DTLLS)
Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS)
Member of the Society of Education and Training (MSET)