Back to all stories

From support worker to branch manager

Neil Devine is a Branch Manager at Voyage (DCA) North 3, a community support hub in County Durham that supports people with learning disabilities and complex needs. We spoke to Neil about his job and how training helped him progress his career in care.


The beginning of Neil’s career

In 2003, Neil was working in a retail shop that was closing. He had to look for a new job but was unsure what type of job to apply for. His colleague at the time suggested he apply for a job at the local day centre that supports people with learning disabilities.

Having worked in retail, Neil didn’t understand why his colleague encouraged him to apply at the local day centre. She explained, “You have a really good way with the people from the day centre who visit the store. You’re patient and understanding and really help them.”

Neil took a leap of faith, applied at the local day centre and got the job!



At Voyage Care, all new employees have access to online training and group sessions*. These training sessions are held at Group Support. Based in Lichfield, Group Support is where supporting departments live, such as training, IT and quality. The training is service specific and tailored to the needs of the people we support.

As the day centre where Neil would begin his career in care supported people with learning disabilities, that’s what most of his initial training focused on. This equipped him with specialist knowledge so he could provide personalised care and support.

Part of settling into a new role in care is successfully completing your induction.

This is where you shadow an experienced member of the team to put your training into practice. It’s also an opportunity to grow your confidence in your new role.

Fast forwarding a little, Neil continued to progress his specialist skills and knowledge with futher training. He recently completed his level five diploma in, Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children and Young People’s Services’ (England) (Adults’ Management). This qualification provides the tools for social care workers looking to develop their career to more senior positions in the care sector. Neil became a Branch Manager in December 2018 and began working towards his level five diploma immediately. He was supported by his manager throughout the course and was coached to achieve his best.


Career development

As Neil progressed his career, his responsibilities grew and his job role changed. We asked Neil how he found the change, “When you’re doing support work training, it is very hands-on, and things are very specific to the service. When I was moving up the ladder, it was a lot more paperwork and computer based. I learned more about legislations and did a lot more leadership training.”

We asked Neil what he found most challenging; “I was a Team Leader in 2016 and became a Field Care Supervisor in 2017. This meant I had more responsibility in making sure paperwork was done. So, I gradually reduced working with the people we support so that I can focus on doing more office-based work. As a Field Care Supervisor, I still did one shift a week of support work because I really enjoyed working with the people we support. It’s very rewarding.”


Encouraging my team

Neil’s manager recognised he was ambitious and had potential. She encouraged him to apply for the Branch Manager role. His manager was going to retire so Neil worked closely with her during her last couple of months. This is how he was coached for his Branch Manager role.

Neil told us how he is using the same approach, “I am following in my previous manager’s footsteps and using what I learned in my leadership course. I’m giving more responsibility to my team and delegating as much as I can to give other people a chance at developing themselves.”

Here at Voyage Care, we invest in our team so they can continue to earn, learn and develop in a career they love. There are many training and growth opportunities. Where possible, we promote from within the company.

Want to apply for a job at one of our learning disabilities care homes or community support hubs? Search and apply for current vacancies near you.

*Due to COVID-19, all training is currently online.