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Tracy's Story


“I feel that I can make a real difference for the people around me”

Meet Tracy Thompson, whose desire and passion for support work is clear for all to see. After an impressive career in retail, VSA’s Modern Apprentice programme has also allowed Tracy to transfer her skills into a new career path at our Care at Home service, making a positive change to people’s lives.

She kindly shares her inspirational and moving story about her career journey.

“I remember being just 19 and starting out in retail, I was picked to be part of a new Step into Management course, which allowed you to be moulded into a manager but at the same time let your personality shine through – that really got me thinking in life, as people we’re all different and so when working with others you have to adapt to different styles of teamwork and motivation to get the best out of them.”

“I then went on to hold management and supervisor positions at a number of high street stores in Aberdeen, including one where myself and my team won the Best Improved Store at a national retail awards ceremony in London. Whenever we were in our weekly conferences with other managers throughout the country, “Tracy from Aberdeen” was often brought up which got a wee bit embarrassing! But it was great to be recognised for the work that I really enjoyed.”

“I loved launching new stores, making people happy and most of all giving people a chance. Overall, I was proud to have worked in retail for 27 years and I was grateful for what it gave me.”

As well as being a mum of two, Tracy’s years of dedicated work and helping others made her well-respected around the city. But throughout this time, she has faced tragedy and challenges in her own life.

“In 2015, I had my little boy and three months later, my partner passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack. When I returned to part-time work after maternity, I lost my mum to lung cancer and not long afterwards my brother passed away of brain cancer. In the space of a very short time, I had experienced these three huge losses.”

“It was of course a real turning point in my life and is one of the main reasons why my career changed too.”

Tracy had then intended to work in care. However, she found the balance of being a single mother for her young son and the rate of pay on offer too difficult to justify making the move.

“At that point, I became interested in Support Worker roles and Childcare, I even put myself through the relevant training to become qualified. But because I was on my own and my son was still so young, I just couldn’t afford to make it work with what I would have been paid. It wasn’t until my son had started school that my circumstances changed.”

During the 2020 lockdown, Tracy finally made the move from retail to VSA. “When you think about personal care, I thought about my mum and how one day I would hope someone would be able to care for me in that way. I love my job at VSA and what it gives to others.”

“I think you do a better job when you’re doing your SVQ at the same time. Your knowledge and understanding of policies, procedures and so on is far better and is put into practice on a daily basis.”

VSA’s Modern Apprenticeship programme has also enabled Tracy to develop her current role further by using her experiences working in retail. She is currently combining her role with studying Social Services and Healthcare SVQ SCQF Level 7.

“In retail, so much of the work was all about coaching and development – and now, at VSA, I use those same skills for those I support. I break things into small steps to make things better for them. They may have a number of situations or difficulties causing them anxiety, but when you break things down everything becomes so much more achievable.”

The flexibility of learning that an SVQ can provide led to Tracy discovering that she was dyslexic. “I’ve always found the way I learn to be a bit different. When I had a chat with VSA’s coordinator about this, she suggested that I could be analysed for learning techniques on how I could be supported.”

“I didn’t realise that VSA could offer services like this and they introduced me to a specialist to look at what learning techniques would best suit me. We went through different tests such as talking out half words, puzzles, writing fast and so on to establish that I had dyslexia. At 48 years old, I had no idea about this, after all the years of development and success in my past work, it took this opportunity at VSA to find this and support me. And now, the way that I learn, mainly visually, works for me.”

“I think you do a better job when you’re doing your SVQ at the same time. Your knowledge and understanding of policies, procedures and so on is far better and is put into practice on a daily basis.”

Tracy’s role requires her to make home visits around the city to provide the care and support needed to improve people’s daily lives.

“The job gives me a brilliant life balance and allows me to be out in the community which I really enjoy. The different people I meet each day is just so inspiring as well as helping with anything from keeping them company, having breakfast, or talking them through the cost of living.”

“There’s a lady who I care for who lost her husband last year and because she knows my past and my story, it allows her to open up and talk about hers. She often says that I was so brave, but I explain to her that I wasn’t, it’s just about dealing with the challenges in life. There’s lots of different ways that I can help people due to the experiences I’ve gone through myself.”

“I feel that I can make a real difference for the people around me – the service users, my colleagues and VSA”.

About our Modern Apprenticeship Programme

VSA SVQ Centre delivers a successful Modern Apprenticeship Programme and provide a range of qualifications in Health and Social Care. Alongside studying, our apprentices gain practical experience working with the vulnerable people we support. This approach helps our students to put what they have learned into practice with the support of our dedicated team of learning and development professionals.

All of our assessors and verifiers have worked for VSA care services and have years of experience working within health and social care. We have full time assessors based in the main office as well as workplace assessors within some of our services, in order to support our candidates effectively.

Find out more details here

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