SweetTree Discover Our Blog,
Leigh Of Light: an Inspiring Story
33-year-old Leigh Matson always knew that her meaning in life would come from working with others. “I like being with people. I like just talking to them and connecting with them.” This intention has taken her from Oxford to all over London; from veterinary science, hospitality, care and finally, to nursing. Keep reading to know her inspiring story.
Her journey to SweetTree began when Leigh needed extra work to fit around her restaurant shifts. “I was looking for something that was zero hours, something extremely flexible that I could just work in and around. And then I found a domiciliary care job and because I was doing more of less fixed hours at the restaurant, the flexibility was handy. It was different and I liked being out and about and with people. I really enjoyed just chatting to the clients and spending time with them. You got to build more of a connection with people, and it was varied; you are not doing the same thing every time. Then my friend told me about SweetTree. I looked it up, and the longer shifts were very attractive because you get to care for the person aren’t so rushed.
Subsequently, Leigh became an invaluable member of the SweetTree family and threw herself at all the incredible opportunities that SweetTree encourages. “My dad said, ‘If work gives you any training, then take it’, and so I took everything they would give me.” She worked with clients with tracheostomies and stomas and partook in PEG training courses, as well as completed her Level 3 Diploma in Adult Care. “I started in the Learning Disability department because I’m very patient and friendly; you need a lot of patience in LD. I then joined the complex care team and then started to work with the brain injury service as well. I loved the opportunity to get training and become a specialist carer in all of the different areas SweetTree works in.
Leigh speaks fondly of her clients and shared the inspiring story of SK whom she worked with for 4 years, “SK was initially terrified of leaving Peckham, going just across the High Street scared her. But when we got to the end of working with her, she would say, ‘Peckham’s really boring!’ I had taken her to Wembley outlet centre, all the way to Stratford and Queen’s Park. We did a Pineapple Dance Studio in Convent Garden; went to the O2 to do trampolining and to an Arts Festival in North Finchley. It made me feel super proud. There was much hard work, but the clients were fun and at the end of it I love knowing I made a real difference in people’s lives.”
Moving forward, she was unclear about her next steps, “Most of the progression at SweetTree is support worker to the office, and this wasn’t what I wanted. Initially, my mum suggested nursing, but I didn’t fancy it at the time. However, I was getting more involved in the complex care team, and that required a lot more clinical skill. You need to be trained by a nurse, and those are the bits I really enjoyed. And so, when nursing was suggested to me again, I thought, ‘Okay, that’s where I want to go.’
“SweetTree provided me with the Level 3 Diploma in Adult Care. I had no health care or social care qualifications at all, but I jumped straight to Level 3. It was that and the experience with SweetTree that got me through my University interview, as well as the qualification required in the prerequisite for entering uni. There was also all the specialist training that I had received from SweetTree that I explained and that impressed the interviewer.” After considering Learning Disability nursing, she decided to go into General Adult Nursing.“I had already developed LD skills in physical real work. So, while I don’t leave university qualified as a Learning Disability nurse, should I come across someone in my general practice with a learning disability, I have the experience.”
Leigh is now about to start her third year at Middlesex University and is separately trained in phlebotomy and cannulation. “I am busy, but it’s busy in a good way. I am constantly learning in this new job. I feel like I am doing something meaningful. Doing the care work has helped, especially with SweetTree, because you are not rushed.”
Now, Leigh’s future is full of diverse and exciting opportunities, “I am toying with the idea of moving to New Zealand, but then I was debating staying in London and doing A & E. I have also spent this summer working at Thorpe Park and a friend suggested maybe nursing on cruise ships!” Her story illustrates how the width of possibilities that SweetTree provides encourages all who join this family to reach their full potential by taking advantage of stepping stones offered in all different directions.