I’m 25 and I come from a small town in Bulgaria called Kazanlak. I had planned to go and study abroad and the UK seemed very suitable at the time. I picked Glasgow because I wanted to live in a big city and take advantage of the cultural scene and all the events that are on, just everything that a big city has to offer.
My first impressions... it may sound a little anecdotal but, literally, it didn't stop raining for the first three days after I came here, so all preconceptions of Scottish weather and Glasgow came to be true at once.
My university experience was very positive. I studied Psychology. I was working throughout my course, doing part-time catering work to support myself. I also volunteered with a telephone helpline offering emotional support to people in distress and having suicidal thoughts.
Finding permanent work was difficult after graduating, it took me a year and a half. I think knowing a person at the organisation I am now working for helped me in settling into this job. I am a home support worker and I support people with special needs and disabilities in their own homes with practical and emotional aspects of their daily lives. I work around the specific needs of the person. It is a very personalised support to enable individuals to live independently so they can fulfil their potential, follow their goals, and just have happy lives.
When you become part of somebody’s life, it is very rewarding. You develop a personal connection with the person you support, and that’s what keeps motivating you. You can immediately see the results of your work, and the positive difference it makes to somebody’s life. I find myself, even on my days off, still thinking about things at work. You can’t completely shut off. This job makes me feel more part of the community. I'm a lot more involved with the local people and I get to see more of their everyday lives. Because living in the West End, communicating with other foreigners and students here, you can get into a bit of a bubble and not really get to know much about how Scottish people live.
I'm really impressed with how many resources are being invested in Scotland to provide support and I think it makes a huge difference for the people we care for, their families and communities. In Bulgaria these type services are not well developed and most of the state funded support happens in care homes. Most people with special needs would usually be cared for by their family and very little support would be available from specialists. Now that it is necessary to make budget cuts to social services in Scotland, it is important to ensure the admirably high quality of care that has been achieved in this country isn't sacrificed.