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“I can see myself at St Christopher’s for a long time”

JamesHave you always dreamt of holding a leadership position? The Leadership Passport at St Christopher’s Academy prepares you for managing one of our services for children and young people.

James has worked his way up to manager of a children’s home on the Isle of Man. Find out what drew him to working at St Christopher’s

Why did you want to work at St Christopher’s?

I wanted to pursue a career working with young people. I’m from quite a large family and love being around kids. I wanted to make a difference and St Christopher’s was one of the only organisations around where I could work with young people who are looked after by the care system.

What experience did you have before joining the organisation?

Before St Christopher’s I had done a bit of everything in building and construction, including some time at college. I was only 21 when I applied to work here, so they initially gave me an apprenticeship role that was designed to give you a taste of the job on a part-time basis for up to a year. If you successfully completed that, you were offered a job as a full-time children’s residential worker.

Why did you want to join the leadership passport?

I was a team leader at the time. I was at a stage where I was really comfortable in my surroundings at work, so it was time to do the passport, develop my practice and take on the opportunity to become a home manager.

I believe if you’re in a position where you think you can make a good change, you need to step up and do it. You can get complacent at work and not want to improve your practice, but if you think you can contribute and make a difference then you should – it’s too much of a loss if you don’t!

What tasks did you have to complete?

Looking at the passport tasks, I already had a lot of skills and experience because I had been taken on additional roles and responsibilities as a team leader. I’m confident in my role but this definitely gave me a kick to pursue management.

People can feel anxious about whether they are ready to become a manager. However, when I cross-referenced the job description with the work I was already doing, I realised it was things I was already doing or things I have done in the past. The passport was more of a topping off exercise, making sure I had opportunities to do tasks that I hadn’t yet done. It gave me a good insight into the manager role.

What is different about the manager role compared to team leader?

The responsibility is different, knowing that I’m the go-to person. But I like it because I’m confident in my knowledge. It’s also different as I was able to suggest strategies or offer advice before, but now I can just implement them without having to consult anyone. I can put into practice the things that I believe will have a positive impact on young people’s lives.

How did completing the passport help you prepare?

The passport reminds you of the level you need to be at. Although I knew what I had to do, it was a good opportunity to reflect and see if I was really up for it. It’s a good guiding stick.

What professional development opportunities have you had at St Christopher’s?

I’m now completing a Diploma Level 5 – I appreciate the opportunity to earn this qualification as it shows St Christopher’s has a lot of faith in my practice. My experience as team leader has helped because it means I’ve already been supervising staff for years, so I feel ahead.

What’s next in your career?

At the moment, I’m fairly new in post so I want to settle in and make sure I’m able to succeed in this role. I don’t want to work with any other group as I enjoy working with young people so much. I can see myself at St Christopher’s for a long time, it’s what I want to do.

Are you ready to begin a rewarding career with children and young people? Apply to work at St Christopher’s now.