The job that never felt like work, the one that took me from the sublime to the ridiculous and back every day, the one that I reminisced about after I became a proper professional (‘Remember when work used to be fun? When you didn’t lie awake worrying about it all night? When you WANTED to go there?’) – that job was unexcitingly known as ‘support work’.
I worked with others in their twenties, most of us feeling as if life hadn’t really started yet, as if we were killing time while we decided what to do with our lives. Yet later we would look back upon this carefree time, and say: ‘that was living’.
For low pay, we worked for 12 or 24 hour stretches with people with learning disabilities, staying in their home, ‘supporting’ with every aspect of living – counting money, booking holidays, driving, enabling them to wash and dress, laughing, talking, miming, lifting, cooking; sometimes being hit, sometimes being hugged.
Everyone seemed to follow their heart in those days: uncompromised by responsibility, able to live on next to nothing, and full of energy. Just like those people we called ‘clients’. They gave us more than we ever gave them. And people would say
‘I don’t know how you could do that job. It must be so hard,’ but they were wrong. It was easy.