“I wanted to give the adults we support the voice they had lost”
Amy is a Learning Partner at Alternative Futures Group (AFG), one of the largest not-for-profit Health and Social Care charities in the North West. AFG provides person-centred support to people with a range of learning disabilities and mental health conditions.
“Makaton first came on my radar in my previous role at AFG as a Support Worker, when I was told one of the people I supported used it to communicate. I familiarised myself by looking through their support plan and Makaton communication books, but without formal training I had no idea if I was getting it right or not.
I found it really difficult to not be able to communicate with the person I was there to support in the way that they needed.
I later moved into a new role in the Learning and Development team at AFG, where I am responsible for delivering training to our Support Workers and other operational colleagues.
I was still interested in Makaton, so I signed up to a taster session in Chester. I was so inspired by the session that I knew I wanted to become a Tutor myself and bring these skills to my role at AFG. I immediately booked onto my Level 1 and 2 courses, which I completed while also working full time.
What struck me most during these courses was that I was often the only person there from an adult focused background. I knew from my experience how difficult it could be for young people who had learnt to use Makaton as their main method of communication, to then come into an adult care setting where they were not understood and effectively had no voice. I wanted to give the adults we support the voice they had lost - it is a basic need.
I completed my level three Makaton training whist 37 weeks pregnant and my level four with an 8-week-old baby! I was determined.
AFG have been incredibly supportive and allowed me to study for my exams during work time. As an organisation, AFG recognise the positive impact of having support staff upskilled in areas such as Makaton.
I officially qualified as a Tutor in July 2023, and I loved absolutely every second of it.
I am proud to be the charity’s first licensed Makaton Tutor and I am now planning to introduce a ‘Communication Club’ to share learning, resources, and ideas on how to implement Makaton with colleagues who support people who use the language, or have specific communication needs.
I would ultimately love to help AFG to achieve Makaton Friendly status so that we can use it to enhance more people’s lives.”
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