Moving from retail to a career in social care was the best decision I ever made

Published: April 9, 2021

After being made redundant following a 25 year career in retail, Laura decided to take the leap and begin a new career at FitzRoy. Since then, she hasn’t looked back. We spoke to Laura to find out how the first three months of her new job have gone, and why choosing a career in social care was the best decision she ever made.

“I worked as a store manager for an opticians for around 20 years. I was just going through the motions of just getting up and going to work every day, I never really stopped to consider whether I liked my job or not, I was just doing it.

“We all were furloughed for six months during the start of the pandemic, which was a really strange experience, I had never been off work before. I have always been really career driven and like to be busy, so when I was made redundant in December I was really lost.

“My husband has always been really supportive of my career, so he was the first to say ‘what are you going to do, do you want to go to university, do you want to start a new career’, and I realised that now I was out of retail I didn’t know if I wanted to go back into it.

What drove me, and what I loved was the connection I made with the customers and the one to one interactions I had.

“I started thinking about the parts of my job I loved, and the parts I didn’t enjoy, and I realised I didn’t like working to financial targets every day. What drove me, and what I loved was the connection I made with the customers and the one to one interactions I had. The moments where I would help a person find a pair of glasses that meant they could read a book, that’s what I loved.

“My husband suggested I look at jobs in care, and then I saw the job at FitzRoy, something just said ‘yes, this is for me’. I have a nephew that is autistic and the first day he remembered my name, I remembered that joy I felt. When Caroline called and offered me the job, it just felt like it was meant to be.

They have been so supportive from the very beginning.

“The first day anywhere is always a bit nerve wracking, but coming from retail you get used to throwing yourself into a new situation. I quickly realised the team at Winchester Apartments is just amazing, they all have their own strengths that together make such a great team, so when I first started I made sure to shadow them as much as possible to learn from their skills. They have been so supportive from the very beginning, they always say ‘no questions are silly questions!’.

“I have so many transferable skills from retail that I can use in my new career, more than I originally thought there would be. When you’re in retail, it is all about the connection you make with the customer and recognising that every customer is different. That is really useful when working at FitzRoy, because every person we support is different and there’s no ‘one size fits all approach’.

“The biggest nervewracker for me was the personal care. Making someone dinner is one thing, but doing the personal care I thought would be a big deal. But I made sure to follow other staff round and watch how they did everything, and at the same time that gave me the opportunity to get to know the people we support. I realised very quickly there wasn’t anything to worry about. It’s about making sure the person has their dignity and actually it all felt very natural.

I love it - why didn't I do this ten years ago!

“Within three days of starting I was going home to my husband saying ‘I love it – why didn’t I do this ten years ago!’ I speak to my friends who still work in retail and they tell me how stressful their days have been, and even if someone we support has had a bad day, I love the challenge of making their day better somehow. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing you’re making a difference, that’s why I’m here.

“It’s really hard to put into words what I love about my job and what I love about working for FitzRoy, because the moments of complete happiness may seem so small to other people. But when I do something that makes the person I am supporting smile, or I help someone to achieve something themselves, those are the moments that make me realise I absolutely love my job.

“My family have all said that they can tell I have found what I was meant to do. I come home from work with a smile on my face now, changing to a career in social care was the best decision I’ve made.

If you’re looking for a career change now, I would say ‘Go for it!’