In June, Northcott Innovation with funding from the Department of Social Services, piloted the first of their kind Support Worker Festivals in Campbelltown and Tamworth. The events were specially designed by Disability Support Workers for Disability Support Workers.
The NI Support Worker Festival was designed to invigorate, educate and allow networking opportunities for Disability Support Workers.
Showing Disability Support Workers how valuable they are, celebrating their hard work and personal input, giving them opportunities to learn and allowing them to network with other Disability Support Workers were the main goals of the events.
When asked about creating this event, our Executive Director Sam said that she hoped that Disability Support Workers felt valued and celebrated because they’re doing an amazing job.
She explained, “We think there should be more opportunities for the sector to get behind Disability Support Workers to celebrate and respect their role”.
The events were also an opportunity for Disability Support Workers to learn something new, like a different skill or a new strategy, through the range of presentations at the festival.
Some of the topics discussed at the event were advice around supporting safe and fulfilling relationships with your customers, learning different ways to communicate with all people and the pros and cons of working as a sole trader versus working for a large organisation.
The events also created a space where Disability Support Workers could connect with each other, share stories and meet other Disability Support Workers.
“Our research showed that some Disability Support Workers are simply not connected at all to other Disability Support Workers and that can be quite isolating. These events gave us a chance to connect those workers with other workers, allowed them to meet and share their experiences with each other”, said Sam. “We created a comfortable atmosphere with spaces to chat, have a lunch and drink together which gave all attendees the chance to exchange different experiences and knowledge with each other.
At the Tamworth Festival, we asked Northcott Support Worker Julia what she thought about the event. “What a great event! Thank you for all your support and providing Tamworth with this wonderful opportunity!” said Julia. Another Disability Support Worker who attended the Tamworth event travelled 4.5 hours to be there. “It’s the best decision I’ve made for weeks coming here. I’ve learned so much!” she said.