When it comes to job satisfaction and fulfilment Ephraim Cohen’s job delivers – in spades.
The 21-year-old Mancunian is a new support worker at Kisharon’s house in Montpelier Rise, Golders Green, home to five young men with mild to moderate learning disabilities.
Just five weeks into the job, Ephraim is on the first rung of the career ladder. So far, he has been getting to know the men, cooking with them, leading their daily prayers and is looking forward to infusing their whole experience of Shabbat with Judaism just as soon as he can.
“At the end of every day I feel I have accomplished something. I’ve taught someone a new skill or improved a skill they already have, and that makes me happy.”
Ephraim is a rare breed: Kisharon and other social care providers need more Jewish care staff to create the optimum home from home for the men and women they support.
The oldest of an orthodox family of five, Ephraim is a fine catch. A keen cook since the age of 13, he always helped around the house and has fond memories of hosting Shabbat and yomtov guests with learning disabilities from Manchester’s Friendship Circle. He did much voluntary work with them growing up, and not only that but his mother, Freyda, is a special needs teacher.
Leaving school with two A levels, in Business Studies and ICT, Ephraim’s first job was with an eBay online selling business, and next came a post in freight forwarding. His ambivalence about that job, coupled with disappointment when a business trip to set up a warehouse in the US was called off because of Covid, brought about a career rethink.
Fortuitously, an aunt living in London had a lucky conversation with Kisharon’s Director of Operations, Hadassa Kessler. Both belong to the same book club and Hadassa was discussing with her the serious shortage of Jewish care workers.
Ephraim said: “At that stage, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Given the fact that the job was with a Jewish organisation and meant living in London, not too far away, it didn’t take long to work out that this was a good opportunity.”
In another stroke of luck, his grandmother had a flat in Borehamwood which Ephraim now calls home.
Ephraim admits he is a hands-on learner, but is fully aware of a steep road ahead of NVQ and other qualifications needed to climb up the ladder.
It’s a career where every aspect is governed by statutory requirements, company policies and new methodologies that have to be kept up with. With all this and the meticulous records that must be kept, establishing relationships with individuals is only a part of the picture. “I know there’s a lot to learn,” he admits.
Care worker shifts are long too. Currently, Ephraim works from 8am-9pm Monday to Wednesday. But he says: “Working in business is far more stressful. You could just be sitting and having a chat. Caring for people isn’t necessarily hard work. At the end of the shift, you are tired but you know there’s been progress and you’ve achieved something. It’s a very friendly environment. At Kisharon, we are one big family.”
Have you got what it takes?
A rare level of compassion is needed to become a care worker. This and other qualities can count more than experience when it comes to a first job.
Kisharon encourages staff to attain qualifications starting from the introductory Care Certificate right up to an NVQ Level 5 which gives candidates supervisory skills ready for significant responsibilities.
Starting hourly salaries range from £9.15 (unqualified) to £10.75 (qualified with NVQ Level 3), with £13.00 for a team leader.
For experienced managers, salaries start from around £27,500.
Staff are expected to undertake mandatory and other training throughout the year too. New starters have a full induction, and start by shadowing experienced staff to learn the requirements of the job.
Are you interested in joining? Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org