Real Lives

It’s never too late to care

From retail to care

Throughout the year we profile a care professional who has come into the sector after a career change and who demonstrates that it really is never too late to care! This month we meet Brony Hagley and Amy Stephenson from Discovery, who during the pandemic went from retail to care and have never looked back.

March was the two-year anniversary of lockdown in the UK. For many, this anniversary has been an opportunity to reflect upon the changes in their lives since the pandemic began.

Thousands of individuals like Bryony Hagley and Amy Stephenson, lost their jobs in retail and needed to find work elsewhere as all “non-essential” high street businesses closed and people were ordered to stay at home.

Bryony and Amy took the chance to change their lives for good. Now both Assistant Locality Managers at Discovery, a charity that supports adults with learning disabilities and autism, they reveal how lockdown led them to transform their careers into fulfilling life-long roles in social care.


Amy’s Story:

Before the pandemic and lockdown, I had worked in retail for over two decades. I loved it, however, when the store I was working in was shutting down, I decided it was time for something completely different.

I have always had an interest in caring for people, I had qualified as a nursery nurse in the 1990s and often kept an eye out for childcare jobs. Once my journey in retail was over, lockdown hit and I was frustrated sitting at home. I knew I wanted my next path to be connected to health and wellbeing and to fulfil my ambition to care for people in my community.

Discovery stood out to me because the application was simple and the adverts clearly showed what a fascinating place it would be to work. I didn’t have any prior experience supporting individuals with learning disabilities or autism, but that didn’t matter.

Since joining I have achieved my care certificate and my mental health level three. After just three weeks, I knew this would be my career for life. I am now working towards the dipHE (higher diploma) with the Open University, showing how studies can be wrapped around full time work.

I have now been promoted to Assistant Locality Manager, proving that no matter what your career background is, Discovery will be there to support, guide and train you.


Bryony’s Story:

I had worked in various retail companies since the age of 16 and despite being promoted to assistant manager of my store, I felt like every day was the same. I craved something different. I wanted something where I could make a real difference in people’s lives.

I have always had a lot of love, care and attention to give and a career in social care seemed like the perfect place to put this into practice. I did a lot of research before I applied and it was Discovery that stood out. Its promotion of independence and person-centred support resonated with my own values.

Once I joined, I had a few weeks of shadow shifts with a mentor which made the transition from retail easier than I had anticipated. After a short while, I was even promoted to Assistant Locality Manager.

I didn’t have any qualifications in health and social care and had to leave school early because of my mental health. However, since transferring my career into social care, I have gained many new skills and qualifications. I have done my level 2 NVQ Diploma in Health and Social Care and Discovery is even sponsoring me to get my driver’s liscence.

My days are so varied, I support people with medication administration, finance, health appointments and bills. Yet, I am also there to support people to live fuller lives, be it going shopping or painting their nails. I even recently supported someone to overcome their fear of flying and accompanied them on a trip to Lapland!

I am so grateful that I made the career transition when I did. Retail would have been a scary place during lockdown, many of my friends were made redundant. During lockdown, I was so grateful to have a secure job that allowed me to help people.

It’s not always easy but is it the most rewarding career there is. Supporting people to become more independent and achieve things they never thought they could is truly amazing.

Discovery has been awarded by the Great Places to Work Institute, if you or someone you know could be a Discovery support worker, you can complete the Discovery quiz to find out:




Edel Harris





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