PAIGE HALLIDAY, 28, IS A SUPPORT WORKER. SHE LIVES IN LEICESTER WITH HER THREE-YEAR-OLD SON, MILLER
“I moved into the care sector at the age of 20. I’d been working in retail since I left school at 16 and one day, I just thought, this is not for me anymore. One of my close friends worked in the sector and I could see how much he enjoyed his job, so when a position came up, I applied and got it.
A few months later I moved to Community Integrated Care and I have never looked back. I loved working in social care from the word go. Supporting someone and being able to make a difference in their life is a really rewarding thing to do. It sounds silly, but where I work really is like a home from home. I enjoy going to work and making the people we support smile. If they haven’t got any family, we become their family to them. It makes such a difference in their eyes.
In 2017 I went on holiday with my Dad. I went straight to my Mum’s house when I got back and suddenly felt a pain in my chest. It got worse and worse, so eventually, my mum called an ambulance, and I went to the hospital. It turned out I had a collapsed lung which the doctors thought might have been caused by the pressure from the plane when it was landing. I recovered and went on to have my son, Miller, later on, that year and thought that the problems with my lungs were over.
Then, in December 2019. I was on a date when the pain started in between my shoulders, followed by the top of my back, and then in my chest. I called an ambulance straight away and they took me to hospital, and it turned out my lung had collapsed again. As soon as it happened, I was in A&E wondering what I was going to do about work.
It was a frightening time. I needed to work to pay my rent and bills, but I was sick, and I knew there would be no way I could work. It was so stressful and scary. I had an operation five days later and had only been out of the hospital for two weeks when my other lung collapsed, and I had to have another operation.
My concerns about money became even more worrying. My manager immediately suggested I apply to Community Integrated Care’s Wellbeing Fund for financial assistance. I was awarded the grant and over the next three months, I received almost £3,000 worth of funding, which was more than I would have earned during that time. It was a Godsend. I’m so grateful. If it hadn’t been for that, I would have had to borrow money from my family to pay my rent which I would have struggled to pay back after being off work for so long recovering from both operations. It would have been very difficult.
Receiving the grant meant I could focus on getting well again, without having to worry about how I was going to pay the bills, but it’s a shame that it was needed. It would be even better if care workers were paid a higher wage in the first place; then we could put our own money aside to cover emergencies like this, rather than having to apply for extra support.”