JORDAN CONROY, 26, IS A DEPUTE SERVICE LEADER BASED IN PORTSMOUTH.
“My Dad passed away unexpectedly in December 2020. It came as such as surprise and my three sisters and I were devastated. We were still in shock over his death when our thoughts quickly turned to how we were doing to pay for his funeral and give him the best possible send-off.
It was around that time that I read something about the average funeral being between £3k-£4k and neither my sisters nor I had that sort of money. My Dad had no savings or life insurance either and we were thinking about selling some of our personal items or taking out a bank loan. Then one day, I noticed something in my work emails from my employer, Community Integrated Care about a Wellbeing Fund they ran for staff in financial difficulties and I decided to apply.
When I found out I had been awarded the money, I cried because the feelings were so overwhelming. It was a mixture of being upset and being relieved and I remember video-calling my sisters and seeing the relief on their faces too. We were able to give my Dad the send-off he deserved in the end and I am so grateful that we were able to make it that bit more personal, but we could only do that because of the Wellbeing Fund.
If I didn’t work for an organisation that had things like this in place for their colleagues, I genuinely don’t know what we would have done. The experience of not being able to afford to pay for my Dad’s funeral was an upsetting one. That situation, combined with my first-hand experiences of dealing with some of the challenges that social care workers have to face on a day-to-day basis, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic, has made me certain that the pay should be better.
Being on a low wage can feel really degrading and I do feel we deserve more. I have got friends who don’t work in care, and they don’t have to worry about money. They will message me and tell me what they’re doing that weekend and ask me if I fancy it, but I often can’t afford to do the things they’re doing and especially not on impulse.
When you earn a low wage, you have to pre-plan everything and save for stuff monthly, rather than being able to do it immediately. But despite the low pay, I love making a difference. I support adults who have complex learning disabilities. I love seeing them smile as we support them to live independently and achieve their goals. You just can’t beat that feeling.”