When spreadsheets meet crochet

“Four people we support managed to invite themselves to my wedding a few years back,” laughs Lisa. “I loved it and so did they. I like to think its how we work round here.”

Lisa’s just back in the office having visited Theresa, a lady Discovery supports near Bridgwater “I met Theresa once before,” Lisa says, “and we had a conversation about our hobbies and Theresa told me all about her crocheting. I’d always wanted to learn and Theresa offered to teach me. It was a really lovely and sound tracked by her budgie Tony of course – and we met as acquaintances and left as friends.” 

Roughly twice a month, Lisa Evans (Finance Director for Discovery) will be found visiting Discovery’s homes. “Sometimes I leave feeling really inspired,” she says, “Like when I visited one team, where people had real, diverse choice around what they wanted to do and were actively involved in some really interesting things.” But there are less good visits too. “I visited one day service where everyone was pretty much sitting watching the telly. That’s not what modern support should be like. It’s left a lasting impression on me to be honest. We still have some way to go before we can be truly proud of all of our support, but I am seeing real progress. For example, we all know that Discovery has been using more agency colleagues than we’d like but I’m particularly pleased that virtually all Discovery’s management positions are now filled and since completion of the restructure we have had more new starters than leavers.”

Lisa with crochet

Social care is in Lisa’s blood. She has worked in various finance roles in social care for 10 years before applying for and grabbing the opportunity with Discovery. Prior to that, as a finance manager in a manufacturing company, she had been fed up with squeezing every bit of profit out of the business to hand to the shareholders. “The idea of reinvesting any surplus into improving services was both refreshing and inspiring” she says, “it allows Boards to make such positive decisions. I guess I really believe in the positive role the not-for-profit sector plays in our public services.”

Lisa also believes strongly that people should be encouraged and supported to have diverse career paths. “As much as I’ve been actively supported to develop my own career,” she says, “I now try to encourage others too. I’m very proud of one former Lead Support Worker, for example, who is growing his career as an internal finance auditor. The fact that he has direct experience of support work is a huge advantage both for him personally, and for the Discovery finance team as a whole. His background, alongside regular visits by the whole team, help him – and us – keep a good ‘feel’ for the organisation. Career paths at Discovery do not have to be linear, and getting on Aspire (our national awarded career development course) is a great way to help you find new opportunities.”

For Lisa, it is clear that finance is about more than just policing the organisation. It’s about moulding it to be person centred, passionate and ambitious for the people we support. “I’ve a family member with Downs syndrome who’ll be entering adult support in a few years’ time,” she adds, “That personal connection means I never stop thinking about the support she and her family will want and need in years to come. Anything I can do to shape Discovery in that image, I will.”