My name is Kenneth Stirling and I’m a branch leader with Cornerstone. I’m based in Irvine and lead a range of housing support and care at home services across Ayrshire. I have combined registration with the SSSC as a manager in both care at home and housing support.
I started my career straight from school, having few qualifications and little interest in education. Leaving school without a job wasn’t an option and I was given the opportunity to start a government training programme supporting adults with learning and/or physical disabilities in a day centre. My main interests in school were woodwork and art and the career advisor thought I could use these to help others. Once I started the training I realised this was good advice as I really enjoyed sharing my interests with others. My mother had also befriended a lady with disabilities, often spending time in the family home, so the opportunity to support other people felt natural.
In my role I lead and support over 140 staff and self-employed carers across a range of services. These include fostering, housing support, adult placement and supported employment and while my role entails sometimes sitting for hours writing applications to local authorities to develop our business, it also allows me to enjoy the best part – having a chat with the people we support over a coffee.
I’ve worked in social work services and social care for the past 30 years in a variety of positions including supporting and managing children and adult services, as well as leading day services for older people (which is where I learned how to be a bingo caller).
Social service employers look for a range of qualities in new staff. Having the right attitude and values is the most important attribute; training and gaining a qualification follows on. I’ve enjoyed my whole career to date and have enjoyed completing a range of vocational and academic qualifications including at MSc level.
The things I like most about my job are seeing staff develop into confident social care professionals as they grow; knowing our services operate to a high standard with the recognition of the Care Inspectorate awarding consistently high grades including ‘Excellent’; and sharing best practice with other professionals across the country. There will always be budget constraints in providing high quality care and support, which can be frustrating, but this offers an opportunity to be innovative which excites me.
The job is not just a career – it’s a lifestyle. To know you’ve personally changed someone’s life for the better makes you feel proud.
The job is not just a career – it’s a lifestyle. To know you’ve personally changed someone’s life for the better makes you feel proud.Kenneth Stirling Cornerstone