Sharon Barr, KIDS Safeguarding Lead, shares her career journey with KIDS spanning over 20 years!

At the time of applying to work for KIDS in 1998 I was working in a residential home for adults with learning disabilities, a friend who I worked with saw the KIDS advert and suggested we both apply, as working with children might be lots of fun.

I worked with four families for a number of years as their short breaks worker and had lots of fun supporting them; from activities at home whilst parents went out, to abseiling with a wheelchair user. I wasn’t too much older than some of the young people that I supported and I think this helped to build a good rapport and professional relationships and support them in taking part in activities their peers would be.

After about 5 years I went to university to complete my social work training and continued supporting a couple of families who were still receiving support from KIDS but my plan was to finish work with KIDS once I qualified. But once I qualified I was only supporting one family as the others had moved into adult support so I continued to work with them whilst working full time as a social worker.  I will always remember going in to my first day in a new job as a newly qualified social worker with a fat lip and black eye, as the child I was supporting from KIDS the day before was showing me their impressive gymnastics and had cartwheeled into me and kicked me in the face! 

I then applied for a permanent role with KIDS managing the play and leisure and young carers team alongside having had two children and fostering a disabled child. 

One of my fondest memory, was when I attended a carol concert recently. It wasn’t until I spotted his mum that I realised one of the children in the choir was the first child I had supported with KIDS in 1998. His mum was so pleased to see me and she remembered so much about the support KIDS had offered so it obviously meant so much to her.   

Working with young carers has been a really humbling experience for me and listening to their stories , I am always being astounded by their resilience at such a young age.  Safeguarding child and adult at risk has always been a passion of mine as I believe that everyone has the right to be safe and be protected from harm, so when the national safeguarding role become available it was a no brainer for me to apply and I was successful. So here I am 22 years on - here’s to the next 22!