From care apprentice to award winner
Marking National Apprenticeship Week (5-11 February) Suzanne Slater, commercial director at NCFE, shares the story of a young care professional making a difference
In the heart of Salford, near Manchester, a 16-year-old apprentice is making waves in the social care sector, capturing hearts and earning accolades.
Christopher Ademola’s remarkable journey from Nigeria to the UK, fueled by his mother’s dedication to nursing, culminated in him winning a prestigious national apprenticeship award – but that’s far from the end of his journey.
Christopher’s story is one of passion, resilience and a commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of others. Inspired by his mother, Shakira, a registered nurse who moved the family to England, Christopher embarked on an adult care worker apprenticeship at Wigan Council.
Little did he know this would be the first step in a journey that would lead him to set up a YouTube channel, UNIFIED OSCE, alongside his mum. Together, they use the platform to share invaluable knowledge and guidance, particularly on caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s.
Christopher had initially struggled to adapt to a new environment, especially considering he started his apprenticeship shortly after moving to the UK. Despite the initial hurdles, he felt encouraged by the supportive environment that wanted to see him succeed.
Reflecting on their first meeting, Karen Bradshaw, service manager at Wigan Council, said: “When I first interviewed Christopher for an apprenticeship he stood out from the crowd. He told me he had always looked out for others.
“His passion was to make people happy, and he wanted to make a difference to people’s lives. He told me that anything worth doing in life must benefit the people around him. His smile and kind nature shone through the whole time.”
Christopher now aims to inspire others, emphasising that, regardless of where you come from, anyone can achieve their goals. He said: “I am just glad I can encourage others that, no matter your background, you can achieve anything you set your heart on.”
It’s this impressive dedication to health and care that saw him named Apprentice of the Year at the Aspiration Awards – a national celebration created by the educational charity and awarding organisation NCFE.
Reflecting on his win, Christopher expressed gratitude to his mother, acknowledging that his inherent compassion and desire to put others first were traits he learned from her. He explained: “People that knew me when I was younger, they would say I was a softie, but that’s always been part of me – making sure to put others even before myself. I think mostly I learned that from my mum.”
Christopher has now completed his apprenticeship and moved on to study for a T Level, a testament to his commitment to continuous learning and career progression. On his apprenticeship, he shared insights into the diverse training opportunities he received. This comprehensive training not only enriched his knowledge but also prepared him for the challenges and rewards of working in social care.
He adds: “My apprenticeship prepared me for a career in social care. I was able to work and gain experience in a range of different services. From supported living accommodation, respite, dementia, learning disabilities, day centres and more. My apprenticeship helped me become a better communicator and overcome barriers to communication when working with service users. I also got to work in collaboration with different professionals, like physiotherapists, social workers and GPs.
“The experience of working in social care is every bit rewarding. The opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives is second to none. I love working with people of different ages, abilities backgrounds, religions and life experiences. Applying a person-centred approach ensures their differences are celebrated not discriminated against.”
As well as claiming the NCFE award, Christopher went on to be crowned Apprentice of the Year at the FAB Awards – a national celebration recognising contributions across the education sector.
For Christopher, the accolades symbolise the opportunity to provide compassionate care and support to individuals during vulnerable times in their lives. He recalls one moment during his apprenticeship: “One of the service users, they suffered from depression. The person was isolated, always in their flat. I was able to help the individual step out of their comfort zone and actually start going out again.”
Looking ahead, Christopher’s plans are not set in stone, but he is certain they will involve making a positive difference in people’s lives. He concluded: “I’ve got big plans. To me, there’s nothing more satisfying or rewarding than helping people to regain or maintain their ability to perform an activity. It’s liberating and its life changing.”
Christopher Ademola’s journey serves as an example for professionals in the social care sector, reminding us of the transformative power of compassion, dedication, and continuous learning in making a lasting difference to the lives of others.