Gill's story

Gill provides part-time support for Peter who lives independently and before the pandemic had a job. With Thistle’s support, he can lead the life he wants - irrespective of the fact he is living with a learning disability.

Gill’s route to becoming a Thistle Personal Assistant (PA) is slightly unusual. Unlike many of Thistle’s PAs she was already working with them part-time in the fundraising team, having joined 9 years ago from sportscotland.

“With my family growing up and other voluntary work coming to an end, I found that I had a few hours free each week and I wanted to do something a bit different – either a job or voluntary work. I was checking something on our website and spotted that we were recruiting for PAs and just thought to myself ‘that might be interesting’…so I applied,” she explained. That was back in 2018.

Thistle’s people-centred approach means that those receiving support choose who is going to work with them. That means interviews can be different to what people have experienced elsewhere.

Gill said, “PAs play an important part in the lives of the people they work alongside, so it makes sense for them to have some common interests. It helps establish a rapport. So, when I first met Peter, the man I now support, we played pool in a pub!”

Some PAs are part of a team providing round-the-clock support for a person. But needs vary greatly so Thistle is always keen to hear from people looking for roles that could be just a few hours each week or right up to full-time employment.

In Gill’s case, it’s roughly 5 hours per week.

She’s often asked what she does as a PA and her answer is ‘work alongside a chap with learning disability so he can do what matters to him and lead the life that he wants.’

That perfectly captures Thistle’s people-centred approach. As everyone supported is unique, what does that entail for Gill as a PA?

She said: “I’m supporting a sociable chap who likes to have fun. Before the pandemic, we went to adapted cycling sessions. While we can still go to cafés when restrictions allow, we can’t play pool, badminton or go to comedy gigs which we would normally do. We do still chat a lot, discussing all sorts of things, although we don’t necessarily agree on everything!

“Liking to do the same sort of things is part of why Peter picked me to join his support team.”

PAs can also help people they support to develop skills too.

Gill added: “Peter not only likes activities which help him keep fit, he’s also interested in eating more healthily… so, we do some cooking.

“Previously he asked for help so he could better manage his money so we worked on that too. And Peter introduced me to LaserQuest!

"It’s great seeing someone develop the skills and confidence to do something they want to do. As a PA you spend a lot of one-to-one time with the person you support and you really do get to know them very well. For me it’s hugely rewarding to help someone live the best life possible.”

Are you looking for a life-affirming role where your values matter? 

For people who are passionate about people, we offer full and part-time roles supporting people living with disabilities or long-term health conditions to live the life they want. 

See life differently. See the difference you can make.

For vacancies in our friendly, professional teams in Edinburgh, Fife and the Lothians, visit our vacancy page.

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