A young man who is carving out a high-flying career in social care is in the running for a top national award.
Twenty-three-year-old Stefan Jenkins, who went to St John Lloyd Catholic School in Llanelli but now lives in Kidwelly, has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2018 Wales Care Awards, which aims to reward outstanding work in the care sector.
Stefan, who knew he wanted to work in social care from the age of 15 and was inspired by his nurse mum Rita Jenkins, now hopes his success at a young age will encourage more school leavers to consider a career in the care sector.
Since completing his Diploma in Health and Social Care at Coleg Sir Gar, Stefan has worked at Ty Hendy Care Home in Hendy, near Swansea, working with young adults aged 22-25 with autism and Asperger’s syndrome for the past four years.
“While my friends at school were looking at going into public service or engineering, I was the only boy on my social care course and I did feel a little bit different,” said Stefan.
“At first, I did have some mixed emotions about it, but I stuck with it and I am so grateful that I did as I now enjoy going into work every single day. It has boosted my confidence massively and it has enabled me to deal with so many different situations.
“I hope I show that young people can really succeed in the care sector and that it offers extremely rewarding career opportunities.”
Earlier this year, when he was just 22, Stefan was promoted to Team Leader and currently manages a team of 36 care and support workers.
He has now been nominated in the category for Excellence in Learning Disabilities Services sponsored by Home Instead Senior (Silver) and All Care South Wales.
On October 19 he will attend the glittering ceremony at Cardiff City Hall.
It is set to be an extra special event as it also marks the Wales Care Awards’ 15th anniversary, and the 25th anniversary of organisers, Care Forum Wales.
Stefan, who lives with his fiancée Jessica Griffin, was put forward by Ty Hendy manager Lorraine Jackson, who said that although one of the youngest on the Ty Hendy support team, Stefan thrives in making a difference every day.
“He ensures that the people we support are treated in a person-centred way and with respect and dignity. Stefan applies himself in a way that the people we support can relate to and enhances the quality of service we offer,” Lorraine added.
Stefan believes his age means he can relate to his clients, who all reside in Ty Hendy’s supported living flats, and helps him to support them to live their young lives as best they can.
“I like to get them out as much as possible and enjoying their lives as young people. I can relate to them as a young person and I try to look at different ways to keep them active and engaged, and so reducing any negative behaviours.”
Stefan has already helped to convert one other twenty-something to the care sector as his fiancée Jessica, 24, recently left her job as a manager in a fast food restaurant to also join the Ty Hendy care team.
“Jessica started working at Ty Hendy two months ago and she is absolutely loving it!”
With their wedding planned for next April, the couple are delighted by Stefan’s nomination and the boost it has given him.
“For my age to be nominated I think is absolutely brilliant, I am a young lad and I feel I have a great future in social care ahead. It is so rewarding and so if any young people are thinking about making it their career, I would definitely say go for it!”
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.
He said: “This year’s ceremony is an even more special occasion because it marks the 15th anniversary of the Wales Care Awards and the 25th anniversary of Care Forum Wales and the event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.
“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.
“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.
“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.
“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded.”