Katy Abson, Children's Health and Wellbeing Manager
In 2012 I finished home-schooling my son who has autism, I was working night shifts in residential care and was considering volunteering as a good way to discover my next steps for employment. Voluntary Action Maidstone (now Involve) website was advertising a paid role for a Carers Peer Support Coordinator. I felt I just about met enough of the criteria to take the plunge and after my first proper interview for many years I was amazed to be offered the short term contract to set up and run a new service for Carers. I was thrilled that my life experience caring for my son was recognised and valued and instrumental in securing my path back into work.
During the next 8 years, having completed the Carers Peer Support Project, I was offered a permanent post within the Carers team, later I became a Senior and went on to secure a Team Lead role. Not only was I making advancements, but Involve as an organisation continued to evolve and grow in new and exciting ways. This very much illustrates the progressive and proactive culture throughout Involve, potential is recognised and development encouraged and supported at all levels.
Last year, when a vacancy for a Manager for a new service was advertised, I felt able to approach the Senior Management team to have an open conversation about my potential suitability for the role. My line manager and CEO have been consistent throughout the 8 years and so we were able to have open and honest exchange about my situation, my strengths and challenges and explore what would be best for me and the organisation.
I never would have imagined that my search for a volunteering placement could end in me managing a fantastic team of 15 staff across Kent, developing a new and exciting service which draws not only on my skills acquired in my various roles but on my lived experience as the mum of an autistic child. The challenges have been many but I have fantastic support from my Manager and all of my colleagues at Involve, where concern for wellbeing is not only embedded in our mission and values but in the ethos toward staff too.
I would happily encourage my friends and family to apply for a role a Involve and for me that says it all.