Congratulating Justine on an amazing 20 years at Walsingham Support
Justine Williams, our Head of Operations & Engagement in the North, has recently celebrated an amazing 20 years at Walsingham Support. To mark this momentous occasion, we interviewed Justine on her incredible length of service.
How did you start out at Walsingham Support?
I started in 2002. I saw an advert for a Community Support Worker for Walsingham Community Homes in a local paper in Carlisle, and it really caught my eye. My history was working in elderly care, and I thought that it sounded really interesting. Walsingham had been successful in getting a tender to support individuals in a nunnery to move into the community. The lady who interviewed me was so engaging and as she was explaining the role to me I just fell in love there and then. We did some training on my first day and I can remember going into the convent and being told that the properties the people were moving to weren't ready, which was absolutely fantastic as I got to meet them in their own home and we were able to support them to shop for curtains, pots and pans, etc, which was really exciting. It was also the ethos of Walsingham that drew me in, the values and the high expectations, and I thought, "this aligns with how I feel and what I want to do and where I want to be". I just felt really comfortable, and the teams were really supportive.
What has been one of your memorable moments?
Probably when we were successful with a tender in Carlisle where we supported individuals who had lived in a long stay residential service, and I can remember them moving into their own flats in the Extra Care Housing home. I remember supporting an individual to make her own tea that night, and she said “I’ve never been able to do this before”, and she opened her own tin of beans, put them in the pan, and it’s such a thing we take for granted, but it was a massive thing for that lady and it was so empowering to think, "look what we’ve done, we’ve enabled this person to live so independently". There was an individual we supported at the same property who had never got on a bus on their own before, and we did a lot of work with them so that they could facilitate that themselves. It was absolutely fantastic. Just those little things that we take for granted, but the fact that someone has had to wait until they are in their forties to be able to achieve that, that has been the most empowering thing for me. It’s other people’s achievements, not my own.
What would be a good theme song for your life at Walsingham Support and why?
“Simply the best!” This isn’t about me though, this is about my team. I think we are the best, we strive for improvement. I wake up every day wanting to be better than what I was yesterday, and my team feel the same way. We want to make sure that the individuals we support have the best quality of life, whatever that might be. We’ve got people having flying lessons, we support people just to go to the shop on their own, it’s just that that gets me motivated every day.
What would you like remembered about you?
That I’ve been nurturing for our staff members, so that they feel that they’ve had the support and mentorship from me for them to achieve their goals and aspirations at Walsingham. I want to be known as the person who supported them to achieve what they wanted to achieve. I’m caring, I’m trustworthy, I’m reliable. I compare myself to a stick of rock; I've got "Walsingham Support" running through me! I think we embed all the values and that’s what I instil in my team so that they have those values as well. I always see the best in people, and it’s a true saying, there is no “i” in “team”, we all bring something different and I always see the qualities in each person that I work with and focus on that with that individual as well, so I’m always bringing out the best in everybody. My colleagues call me a bit of a spin doctor, even when things aren’t going too well I can always turn it around and make it into a positive.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Over the years, Walsingham Support has been an amazing journey, and credit to my colleagues and my manager and Walsingham itself for nurturing me and making me a better person as well.
A huge thank-you to Justine for sharing her story with us.