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Could you care? Activity co-ordinator talks about enriching the lives of others

PUBLISHED: 19:42 13 September 2017

Rose Hill Activity Centre's Tom Gleeson with service users John Lovelock and Matt Hooper.

Rose Hill Activity Centre's Tom Gleeson with service users John Lovelock and Matt Hooper.


As part of our #CouldYouCare campaign, we spoke to Tom Gleeson, activity co-ordinator at Rose Hill Activity Centre in Bideford about how he got into the profession and enriching lives.

An activity co-ordinator from Westward Ho! has spoke out about his time in the industry and how he has helped enrich the lives of others.

Tom Gleeson has spent 10 years working in the care sector.

The 37-year old has been working as Rose Hill Activity Centre’s activity co-ordinator for four years, and spent time before that working at Broomhayes School and Children’s Centre and Northam Lodge.

For Tom, the decision to move into care stemmed from a personal experience.

“My dad had a brain haemorrhage in 2003 and spent a year in hospital,” he said.

“I spent my year out of work looking after him and when he came out of hospital his partner moved in to help him and I needed to get out and clear my head.”

Bringing him to North Devon from Peterborough, Tom worked at Northam Lodge before spells at the activity centre and Broomhayes.

He returned to Rose Hill in 2013, and alongside Sue Morley and Tracey Found, has helped build the centre up, taking the number of users of the centre up from nine to nearly 40.

As well as helping to develop life skills, there’s plenty of fun to be had at Rose Hill, with a wide-range of activities from dance to photography, arts and crafts to film-making, and gardening to holidays.

From taking part in a Great British Bake Off, hosting a film-festival and even taking clients on holiday as far as New York, Tom has seen the centre transform the lives of its users.

“Seeing some of the guys being able to cook their own meals when before they couldn’t make a cup of tea or coffee, or taking them fishing and seeing them take the fish they’ve caught home to their parents to cook, it’s little things like that that perhaps step beyond what is expected of us.

“But it not only makes their lives better, it expands what they are able to do in life and gives them more of a chance of doing things they didn’t think they could do.”

Tom’s advice for anyone interested in getting involved is to go in with an open mind, and be prepared to take part in everything the centre does alongside their clients.

But the 37-year-old said the more effort you put in, the greater the rewards.

“No one day is the same here, there’s always something different going on and I think that’s definitely part of what makes it,” he said.

“If you want job satisfaction you can’t really go wrong than working in care.

“Whatever people want to do they can go and do it and I’m really just going along for the ride, but it’s nice to know you have made some one’s life better, and you can’t say that about many other jobs.”

Could You Care?

Could you care? That’s the question we’re asking in the coming weeks as we launch a new series of articles.

The North Devon Gazette and its fellow Archant titles in East Devon is launching the #couldyoucare campaign to look at the issues and challenges facing the adult social care sector.

We hope to encourage recruitment, raise awareness and most importantly, bring you the human stories of those who work in the industry, the people they care for and also those for whom the system is falling short.

And this is where we want to hear from you – do you work in care, or are you or a family member receiving care? Perhaps you work for an organisation or charity and want to get your message across?

If you’d like to share your story, email or call us on 01271 345056.

Find out more about a career in care by going to

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