"AEM brought my brother out of his shell - I wanted to do that for others." Demi's story to Senior Support Worker.

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When Demi Billam finished her university degree last year, she moved back to Worksop to be with her family and to spend more time with her brother. Growing up together, Demi had been a second carer for him.

Her brother is autistic and when the world experienced massive unprecedented changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, he struggled to cope.

That is when they found a place for him at the Dukeries Centre in Worksop. The change was everything.

Demi describes how going to the day service had affected her brother:

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He was like a whole new person. Happy. Smiling. He adores it there. He has so many friends and he's hugging people. That's what drew me to apply to be a Support Worker for Autism East Midlands. I watched him go through this and I wanted to do that for others.

Demi speaking about why she applied for a job at AEM

This is what inspired Demi to apply to become a Support Worker at our Whitegates respite service, which had only opened its doors for the first time in 2022.

The very next morning after she sent her application in, Demi was offered an interview. She describes how her personal experience with autism was "a bonus" in the interview.

Demi was offered the job on the spot.

Like all staff at Autism East Midlands, Demi was required to undergo two weeks of training as part of her role.

"It helps to know everyone goes through the training, and the period where I was shadowing staff was a huge help. The staff are lovely and so supportive."

Now that Demi has been in the role a year, we asked what her favourite part of working at Whitegates was, and why she liked working there so much.

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I love when we first book people in, and we contact their families and find out everything that the service user likes to do. What they're interested in. Because then we can arrange activities they'll enjoy.

Knowing that we're having an impact on them, seeing them experience their local communities. No two days are ever the same and you learn a lot, because our service users have such different interests.

Demi on why she loves working at Whitegates

Starting in July, Demi begins her new position as Senior Support Worker. When the role became vacant, Demi recalls how the other staff members at Whitegates supported her, saying that she'd do well in the role.

"It helped, knowing I had the support of the team. They're a great team. I'm looking forward to leading them, allowing effective communication and giving advice to other support staff, having gone through it all myself."

As we finish the interview, Demi describes Autism East Midlands as an "incredible hidden gem" for the East Midlands, and laments that if AEM hadn't been there, neither she nor her brother would have the confidence they do now.

Thank you Demi for sharing your story and we wish both Demi and her brother every success in our services.

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