When Lauren Willett finished school in 2015, she faced the daunting dilemma of not knowing what to do for the rest of her life.
Lauren had recently completed the highest level of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, her Gold Award. When reflecting on the significance of this achievement, her mind was full of great satisfaction and enlightening experiences that she was very proud of. When completing her 3 Award Levels, Lauren placed a large focus on the Voluntary Service component.
The Voluntary Service Section of the Award encourages young people to volunteer their time to the community and to understand the benefits of doing so. Lauren chose to spend her time volunteering at an aged care facility where she accumulated almost 2 years of experience.
Whilst working in this sector of service, Lauren saw the positive impact that she was making on a daily basis. The joy she brought to those she worked with, and the joy they brought to her, was all Lauren needed in order to decide that she wanted to build a career in the community support sector.
She had found her passion.
Lauren reflects, “I have always been an outgoing, compassionate person and I think doing the Duke of Ed was an active way to follow through with helping the community. My volunteering got me interested in that line of work.”
Just like any other job, aged care brought its own challenges working with multiple people with differing backgrounds, however, it did not take long for Lauren to recognise the positive side to the work she was doing through the relationships and bonds that she was quickly creating. These connections she was building were so impactful on both her life and the residents’, that the challenges were soon outweighed by the benefits.
“It was quite eye-opening for me, as soon as I started, I actually really loved it. It really showed me more ways that you can do so much.”
With such personal insight upon completion of her Gold Award, Lauren decided to start searching for other opportunities to continue her new found passion.
Lauren Finds Home Care Heroes
In her searching, Lauren came across Home Care Heroes, a local Social Enterprise on a mission to increase social inclusion in the community. Lauren found that Homecare Heroes was exactly where she wanted to work and was the perfect way to combine both her passion for building ongoing relationships and making a difference, with her need for part-time work while she was studying.
Home Care Heroes works (as an NDIS approved provider) to match “Heroes” to vulnerable members within the community, who may be socially isolated, lonely, elderly, or living with a disability, injury or illness. Members have various types of needs ranging from companionship and community engagement, to skill building, domestic assistance, mentoring and elderly care. The organisation covers all of the non-medical care bases and has strict intentions to tackle social isolation in order to improve the community environment. Now running for nearly three years, Home Care Heroes has had over 8,000 people sign up to become a Hero in Sydney, the Newcastle/Hunter Region and Central Coast.
Since becoming a Hero, Lauren has worked with a wide range of people including the elderly and those with disability. Her fondest memory so far has been working with a member with autism, reflecting.
“I formed a really great relationship with him and you sort of become a part of their family.”
The Value of Duke of Ed Participants as Heroes
When asked about the process of hiring exceptional Heroes like Lauren, CEO of Homecare Heroes, Jenna Leo, spoke highly of the value of those who have earned their Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
“The qualities we look for in Heroes is that they have engaging personalities, that they’re committed, reliable and can problem solve. What we found in people who’ve done The Duke of Ed is they are very responsible and reliable, which is really important because Heroes are dealing with vulnerable people. They have the heart for it, they really want to make a difference in the community, they know what needs to be done and they go over and above.”
When looking at Lauren’s application to become a Hero, it stood out to Jenna that she had completed her Award. Jenna said she knew immediately that Lauren would be reliable and had the experience to provide care and companionship to members in the community. Jenna added that she recognises the Award displays driven, passionate and capable personalities, something that catches the attention of organisations.
Home Care Heroes Becomes a Duke of Ed Employer!
To ensure more success stories like that of Lauren becoming a Hero, Home Care Heroes has joined The Duke of Ed Employer Program this year – A program where businesses endorse the Award and recognise how valuable it is to recruit those who done their Award as employees.
“We have more Heroes that have done The Duke of Ed because of the combination of the type of person they are, and also the qualities they have. Our whole vision and mission is around creating sustainable and inclusive communities which really aligns with people who do The Duke of Ed.”
If you’re interested in becoming a Hero, head to their website! www.homecareheroes.com.au