A retail manager turned care worker who has transformed the lives of her clients by helping them to fulfil their dreams is in line for a top industry award.
Liz Williams, 54, quit her retail management position 17 years ago to follow her heart into social care and “give something back” to the community.
The mother-of-two, who works as a team leader for Lifeways Inclusive Lifestyles Ltd in Wrexham, hasn’t looked back since and is now celebrating a place in the final of one of Wales’ most prestigious industry events – the Wales Care Awards 2018.
Now celebrating their 15th anniversary, the national awards are organised by care industry champions Care Forum Wales which is also toasting 25 years’ of service this year. They acknowledge the hard work and exceptional performances of those in the care sector.
Liz, who has two sons’ aged 29 and 37 and lives in Ffrith, Wrexham, has beaten tough competition to be shortlisted for the Care Practitioner gong, sponsored by the Older People’s Commissioner.
She will now attend a glittering awards ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 19 where the winners will be announced.
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed it’s amazing,” said the grandmother of three.
“It’s the first time I’ve achieved anything like this. I’m thrilled and just so excited about the awards night.”
Liz, who attended Ysgol Maes Garmon in Mold, spent the first 15 years of her working life in retail management working for a number of stores including Ethel Austin’s Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool branches.
Desperate for a new challenge, she applied for a job as a senior support worker at Pendine Park residential home where she quickly rose through the ranks.
“Within a week of starting my first job in care I knew it was what I wanted to do,” she said.
“I’d never even contemplated it before. Everything just fell into place.
“I’d lost my motivation in retail and was getting no job satisfaction. How can you motivate a team if you have no motivation yourself?
“I wanted something that would enable me to give something back and feel that what I was doing was worthwhile.”
Liz was appointed to her current role 12 years ago which involves supporting a group of three men with complex physical and mental health needs including autism at a three-bedroom bungalow in Wrexham. As well as meeting their day-to-day living needs, she also supports them to set personal goals and achieve their dreams. This has involved helping one gentleman who found it stressful leaving the house. With the support of the team he now has the confidence to go out and try new activities.
“It’s so rewarding looking back over the last 12 years and seeing how far they’ve progressed,” she said.
“There were situations they couldn’t tolerate but now they’re so open to new experiences and are willing to try new things. It takes time, even years, before you get the end result but you still get there.
“I’ve learnt a lot from them. They’ve taught me how best to support people with learning difficulties, it’s a two-way stream.”
Nominating Liz for her award, Annette Hewitson, senior service manager, said: “Liz always encourages her clients to do as much as they can with their limitations. Her innovation helps to drive her clients to access and maintain life skills.”
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.
He said: “This year’s ceremony is an even more special occasion because it marks the 15th anniversary of the Wales Care Awards and the 25th anniversary of Care Forum Wales and the event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.
“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.
“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.
“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.
“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded.”