A Derry project worker has revealed how he became an ambassador for careers in a bid to inspire a new generation to join the care sector,
Feargal Mellon is a project worker at The Rosses in Derry, a supported housing scheme managed by Niamh (the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health).
The Rosses promotes independent living for 38 tenants. Each tenant has their own home and Feargal and his colleagues provide support to enable them to maintain that independence.
Feargal has been working in his current job for just over six years and he also promotes careers in the social care sector through his role as an Ambassador for Careers in Care – a service established by the NISCC (the Northern Ireland Social Care Council).
“There are a range of things I love about my work, one of which is that no two days are ever the same. I also get to work with a range of external agencies and departments within Niamh to support our tenants and this gives me the opportunity to learn from other people. But it is the tenants who make my role what it is - they are a brilliant group of people who I get to share my working day with.”
Before Feargal began working in social care, he was the manager of Trash Records in the city. Although music has always been a big part of Feargal’s life (and still is), he felt the time was right to change direction a few years ago. As a teenager, Feargal had been involved in voluntary work and did some courses through the Churches Voluntary Work Bureau.
He didn’t find school a positive experience but his voluntary work and his wish to do something “more challenging and fulfilling” led him to think about gaining some qualifications.
“Returning to education as an adult learner was a major factor in my decision to change career.
“Undertaking the Access Diploma in Combined studies at the North West College gave me the confidence to move into social care. I’ve recently completed the Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care through the college.”
Reflecting on people who have been influential in his life so far, Feargal recalls Ronnie Cowan and Helena McVeigh of the North West Regional College playing a big part in his decision to pursue his chosen career path, while his family (he has one brother and four sisters) especially his parents and his late Granda Mellon were, and still are, a huge influence.
Another major influence on Feargal’s life is his wife of 17 years, Pauline:
“Pauline has been a massive supportive and positive influence on me in everything I’ve ever done.
“Without her patience, support and encouragement I wouldn’t have taken the step back to education, I wouldn’t have changed career and I wouldn’t have completed the other courses of study that have enabled me to be a better health and social care practitioner.”
To find out more about the NISCC Ambassadors for Careers in Care service, visit www.niscc.info.
To find out more about the work of Niamh, visit www.niamhwellbeing.org.