A TRAINING boss who spearheaded a pioneering scheme which led to a number of young people landing jobs in the care industry has been shortlisted for a top award.
Over the past 18 months, 58-year-old Joyce Williams, who is the lead trainer for Smartcare, the training arm Wrexham-based Pendine Park care organisation, has been in charge of three special training programmes helping disadvantaged youngsters from the area prepare for a career in caring.
This has so far led to 14 of them gaining jobs with Pendine Park and a number of others winning permanent places with other care organisations.
It is this dedicated approach to her role that has landed Joyce a place in the final of major national competition, the 2015 Wales Care Awards.
This is the 13th anniversary of the awards and the glittering presentation ceremony will be held at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, November 6.
The awards are in association with Care Forum Wales, a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1993 to give independent care providers a single professional voice with which to speak on one of the most important issues of our time – how to provide better quality care for those who need it most.
Joyce, who lives in Coedpoeth near Wrexham with Peter, her husband of 35 years, has been shortlisted for the Commitment to Training and Workforce Development Award sponsored by Harlech Foods.
Born and raised in Wrexham, Joyce attended the former Alexandra Girls’ School in the town.
Her first job after leaving school was as a support worker for Wrexham Council, assisting children with difficulties make the journey from pre-school through to primary school.
After this, for around 20 years, Joyce was the carer for both her disabled mother and her sister who had learning difficulties. At the same time she was also a part-time shop floor worker at a large local supermarket.
It was during this period that her two children were born – daughter Laura, 32, and son Phillip, now 28. Laura, who lives in Cardiff, recently gave birth to Joyce’s first grandchild, a little boy named Gruffyd who is now 20 months old.
Fourteen years ago, Joyce had the opportunity to join the Pendine Park with which she started as physiotherapy assistant after undergoing a spell of in-house training.
Seven years ago she joined Pendine’s own training organisation, Smartcare Training based in Hillbury House, and began work as a trainer, eventually being promoted to lead trainer four years later.
She also holds the important position as an assessor for the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) a new credit transfer system which has replaced the National Qualification Framework (NQF).
It was due to her long experience as a trainer that she was selected to lead a series of programmes run at Pendine Park aimed at equipping groups of young people aged 18-25 with the skills needed to work in the care industry.
Called Truth About Youth – Who Cares, these are funded by The Co-operative Foundation and delivered by The Prince’s Trust in partnership with Pendine Park.
During the three-week courses, the group gain qualifications in social care, training in all aspects of care for the elderly including moving and handling and basic first aid, and a City & Guilds Level 3 in Employability Skills.
As well as picking up skills, young people on the course all make a positive contribution to their community.
By working together, they organised a tea dance for carers and the people they support in the Wrexham area, along with anyone else feeling isolated in the local community.
One of the latest course participants, Jane Lloyd, 18, from Wrexham said: “The course has been brilliant.
“We’ve had lots of opportunities. We’ve met so many new people and gained loads of new skills.”
Joyce said: “I’ve been fortunate enough to lead the three courses we’ve had at Pendine over the past 18 months and we’re now working on a fourth to be held soon.
“So far, 14 of the young people we’ve had on the courses have been given jobs with the Pendine Park Care Organisation and a number of others have found employment at other homes and also in a community setting.
“The jobs they now have at Pendine include housekeepers, care practitioners and a trainee chef.
“It’s amazing and very rewarding to see them get jobs, especially as some of them have had real difficulties.
“And they also get their first ever qualifications which is good because some of them don’t have academic skills while they are at school.
“The courses provide a real insight into the care industry and some of those who have taken part didn’t have any conception of what a job within it entails.
“They got to meet residents and see what’s provided for them, for instance, as part of the enrichment programme at Pendine which includes things like sessions with visiting musicians and artists.”
Joyce added: “It’s a pleasure to be involved in this programme and I was amazed and honoured to be nominated and then shortlisted for a Wales Care Award.
“I don’t feel worthy of such an honour because I’m just a small part of a team.
“But I am looking forward very much to the presentation evening at Cardiff City Hall, which I’m sure will be a very glitzy occasion.”
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.
He said: “The event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar and are seen as the Oscars of social care.
“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.
“It is a pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists. Each and every one of them should be very proud of their achievement.”