NAME: Helen Sharkey
JOB TITLE: Deputy Manager – Wokingham
Helen Sharkey has worked at Dingley’s Promise in Wokingham since February 2017, after working at the Reading centre for 18 months. She is Wokingham’s Deputy Manager and looks after a team of nine caring for up to 26 children each week.
What does a typical day look like for Wokingham’s Deputy Manager?
For me I get into the centre early and do paperwork; I’ll also set up for the kids, have a team debrief and speak to families to discuss any updates on the children’s’ progress when they arrive.
We then have group time and group work. Some children will require one-to-one support, while others require some encouragement to play. The sessions are tailored to encourage communication and interaction as a group, but the individual children’s targets are developed specifically for them based on consultation with any specialists they’re working with.
Our sessions are designed to be fun, accessible and relaxed for the children, to give them the best possible environment in which to progress and develop to the best of their ability. Every day is a busy day and some of our children require a lot of support and attention, but this is what makes Dingley’s Promise such a special place.
How did you become an Early Years Practitioner?
I had always wanted to work with Early Years children. I am a qualified teacher and as part of the inclusion placement we’re required to take I was lucky enough to come to Dingley’s Promise. I enjoyed it so much that I stayed!
What do you love about Dingley’s Promise?
I think it’s the fact we have children who have various barriers that stop them from accessing things, such as anxiety or physical barriers. We break down those barriers – we focus on their development and progress, we enable them to make friends, socialise, and enjoy being a child. We work with the parents and families too with various parent workshops or events, to build a support network for all of the families.
What makes Dingley’s Promise such an invaluable service?
We have children who come here who may have tried a mainstream setting but have been unsuccessful. It can leave parents feeling uncertain and isolated. At Dingley’s Promise we are able to reassure the parents and help their child to socialise and develop. After a child has been with us we can help them to go back to mainstream, if the parents are comfortable with that. Some children stay here until they go to school, and some children will start split provision and try mainstream, but how it works is totally up to the parents.
Can you describe Dingley’s Promise in three words?
That is difficult! I’d say – support, individualised care, and joined up working. Three phrases instead of three words!
Helen Sharkey is the Deputy Manager at Dingley’s Promise in Wokingham. To contact the Wokingham centre, please call 0118 9771234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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