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Lisburn charity urges government rethink over skilled workers

The Government should classify some social care staff as skilled workers to prevent a further decline in numbers entering the profession or joining the workforce as a result of Brexit, a charity has said.

Agnes Lunny, Positive Futures Chief Executive
Agnes Lunny, Positive Futures Chief Executive

Positive Futures, which operates in Lisburn and supports people with a learning disability, acquired brain injury or autistic spectrum condition, needs more staff to cope with a growth in its services but, under new immigration rules, many people from other parts of Europe are prevented from applying for jobs. Some exemptions apply for skilled workers.

“Anyone witnessing the work our staff do every day would have a very different view of the definition of what is skilled work,” said Agnes Lunny, the charity’s Chief Executive.

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“We recently supported a young woman to move into her own home after an extended period in a hospital setting.

“That involved a team of our people working with her over a full year to learn her likes and dislikes and to build up her trust.

“That, in our view, is not unskilled work. We have numerous examples of people’s lives being transformed because of the skill and dedication of our staff.”

Matthew Gardiner, who’s a Senior Support Worker with Positive Futures in Lisburn, said: “Supporting people in their own home needs a range of skills.

“After all, you’re working as part of a team ensuring that people move forward with their lives.

“You need to be open to change, because not every day is the same.

“ Everyone is different and that’s our starting point in Positive Futures – supporting people as individuals.”

Positive Futures has augmented its local workforce over the years with staff originally from overseas, but that resource has largely disappeared.

It is writing to the Government to make the case for social care staff to be reclassified as skilled workers.

The charity is currently seeking staff in Lisburn and is running a recruitment event at the Bridge Community Centre, Railway Street, from 9.30am-4.30pm on September 16. More details at www.positive-futures.net.