How Sharon went from 50p a day to £10 an hour.

It’s not often we hear good life-changing news coming from lockdown, but when Tatjana Bodman told us how both Sharon and her mum, Veronica, want to tell the world about how far Sharon has come since being referred to Discovery’s Supported Employment team, we couldn’t wait to hear!

So to satisfy the instant appetite, Tatjana gave me a brief timeline journey below:

1969 – 2018
Sharron Saunders (53) spent her life in day services. A bubbly and helpful lady, she helped out with the people that attended, running the café and undertaking menial tasks such as paper shredding, some of which she got paid a rate of 50p- £1 per day.

Sharron is a lady who has a lot to give, she wants more from life, and when she told her social worker precisely that, he referred her to Discovery’s Supported Employment team:

It took a good couple of years to work out the correct career path for Sharon, but Sharon’s mum tells us below about other important work was happening during these couple of years:

Tatjana has changed our lives. Sharon is an entirely different woman. I can’t believe how much she does for herself now. It all began when the three of us went out for lunch, I was about to order for Sharon, but Tatjana accompanied Sharon up to the bar to order for herself.

Next thing I know, Tatjana takes Sharon for a night out at a local bar! They were due home at 9 pm, but I get a phone call saying how much Sharon is enjoying the naked waiters and can they stay a bit longer!

Early hours of the morning she rolls in singing “show me the way to go home!” she was SO happy – but I was a nervous wreck!

After that the ice well and truly broke! There was no turning back, and why would we want to? I can’t believe how confident Sharon is these days and how much she can do. She uses a laptop completely independently for work now, when I thought she wasn’t even capable of using a tablet for bingo.”

2020 – 2021
Tatjana had a lightbulb moment – Sharon is excellent at signing so let’s see what signing opportunities are out there.
Sharon had an interview with Discovery and was offered a job teaching signing at £10 an hour. She was over the moon! And then… Lockdown.

The day centres closed, as did the school Sharon would be teaching at and all opportunities to deliver her signing course. Sharon’s high was short-lived, her world was about to open up like never before, and now more confined than ever.

But Tatjana wasn’t about to be defeated by a little thing like a pandemic. So instead, she supported Sharon to get a laptop, training her to use it by standing in the garden and shouting through the window!

At first Sharon attended zoom Staying in Touch clubs hosted by people we support with background facilitation from the Involvement and Engagement team. Sharon took a turn as guest host for Film, Friendship and sometimes music club. Then, after a couple of months of support with the laptop, she could use it entirely independently.

So by April 2021, the idea was born for Sharon to deliver Somerset Total Communication Level 1 online. Sharon worked hard all summer, developing the online course structure. By October 2021, Sharon was ready to deliver her first five-session signing course online, So she opened her bank account, got an iPhone and was off!

Sharon is now a tech-savvy trainer who delivers Somerset Total Communication Level 1 (Level 2 planned for the future) twice a week, face-to-face and online.

Sharon is adamant she does not want to return to the day centres – and let’s face it, who can blame her?

Hear her tell you herself in this fascinating interview here:

If you are someone like Sharon who wants to get more from life get started here, or if you are someone like Tatjana who wants to help someone get more from life go here.

The Dimensions group (which Discovery is a part of) has been officially accredited as one of the UK’s Best Workplaces by the Great Place to Work Institute for two years running. Additionally, this year, we received a “Wellbeing” award and a “Great Workplace for Women” award.