Angella Chimenya was recently appointed as the new Head of Quality for Active Prospects. Angella joined Active Prospects as a bank support worker in 2003 and has worked in several support work and managerial roles over the last twenty years.
Angella is a shining example of Active Prospects staff following career pathways from support work into management. Currently, 100% of our Area Managers and Service Managers were internally promoted.
A few days after her successful interview, Angella sat down to share her story.
Can you tell us about your career pathway at Active Prospects?
I started in 2003. My daughter was seven at the time, so I was looking for work that that would give me flexibility. So I started as a as a bank support worker. I could pick weekend shifts, I could pick night shifts, I just couldn’t do a fulltime job with my husband working in London. So I was looking for something that would offer me either school hours, nights or weekends. A friend had just started working with Active Prospects [which was then called Prospect Housing] and shared their details.
I started at Edenside, which was our only nursing home for adults with learning disabilities at the time. I started doing a long day on a Saturday and Sunday and I really enjoyed it and found it rewarding. Whilst I was working bank, I was doing my Level 3 NVQ. Two years later I was able to apply for a permanent senior support worker role and I moved to another service on London Road in Redhill.
Then in 2006, I was approached by senior management who asked me to act up in the manager’s absence because the manager was moving to a temporary role. I was shocked because when I saw the senior managers coming to the service, I thought I must have done something wrong! So when they asked me, I just thought, are you sure? I had to ask them a few times. I didn’t have any confidence that I would be able to manage a service. I think my manager at the time must have seen something in me.
After six months they advertised it as a permanent role. I’m not good with interviews. And it was even more daunting because the then CEO was on the panel! But I got the job. I was a service manager from 2006, then I moved to managing two services around 2016. I surprised myself. I don’t even know how I did that!
In 2018 the opportunity came up to apply for an Area Manager role. Initially we were looking for one manager, but Laura Hugill and I both went for it and were both successful!
Why did you decide to apply for the Head of Quality position?
I’m really passionate about quality. When I look into a service, I ask myself would I be happy if my mum lived there? My mum has a live-in carer in Zimbabwe. We rely on that live-in carer to support my mum with literally everything, and to give us updates to let us know if she’s well.
I just think if you entrust your loved one with somebody, you’re expecting the best. So for me quality….has to be 100%. Because that is somebody’s loved one that we’re supporting.
I was also looking at the organisation growing, I was looking at my personal development within the organisation. Although I’ve not worked in a quality role before, the majority of my skills are transferable and I’m very familiar with all our services. I work really well with everybody in different services and teams. And I thought because I’m really passionate about quality, [the role] sits really well with my current skills as well as my development.
What do you enjoy most about working in in care?
Making a difference and seeing each person’s journey, and the way we make our services bespoke to that individual – for me that’s what I enjoy about my work. I have a passion for making a difference and contributing to even the smallest step for that individual.
I’m thinking of the gentlemen at London Road who are now at Montford, I’ve known them for 20 years. For me, they are more like family, not just people I’ve supported. So I just have that passion, I enjoy seeing people aspire. For example, we have a lady we support – when she was first assessed, we thought ‘we can’t meet her needs.’ In the first few months, we did have regular incidents. But now if you look at her, she has developed her skills, she is growing her own vegetables, she’s allowing her mum into her flat to cook with her. She never used to allow her mum even through her front door.
I also really enjoy the social events that we do. People and staff coming together and just having fun.
What advice would you give to someone who’s just joined Active Prospects or is thinking about applying for a role here?
You can develop your career here. I came from not knowing anything about care, coming from a completely different cultural background, and I developed [and] transformed within social care.
What I like about Active Prospects is the training and development opportunities, there are lots and lots and lots of opportunities. There are lots of people who have been encouraged to pursue their careers here – I’m one of them.
The growth of the organisation has given me and other people even more opportunities. We’ve opened more services and diversified our skills. I hadn’t managed complex services before, but now I have. So that growth has benefited people as well as the organisation.
I think some people don’t look at it as a career. But since Covid more people realise how important carers and support workers are. I would recommend it. It’s rewarding and you make a difference to people’s lives.
Also, be open to learning. I used to put myself forward to help as much as I could. I would always want to learn. So I’d always ask these questions, what does this mean? What does risk assessment mean? How do you complete a risk assessment? I would ask, can you show me how to do it and I’ll do as much as I can. I started helping with the rotas, just to take some pressure off because the service didn’t have an assistant manager and that’s how I just developed my skills. I was quite keen and I would always do whatever I could to support the manager.