Duke of Edinburgh Award

A huge well done to Chris and Matthew from Hedleys College on achieving their Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award! Such an amazing achievement, and also a huge well done to Michael on achieving his Bronze Award. You have all done so well and should be really proud of yourselves.

“Friends of the Community” group win award!

Last week our “Friends of the Community” group from Hedleys College/ Horizons were presented with a very special recognition award. The award was from “The Key” A charity which is dedicated to inspiring belief in young people, and was awarded to them for helping the homeless, and those who are less fortunate.

Our group were delighted to receive this award and we look forward to seeing them continue their mission to carry on helping those in need in the future.

The Percy Hedley Foundation – North East Support Worker Vacancies

Did you know on an average week The Percy Hedley Foundation support over 750 families through education, adult learning and residential services.

Over 1,100 staff support our offering, delivering individual personalised plans to support education, development, learning and independence.

Across 2 schools, 2 college campuses and 6 residential settings no two days are the same within The Foundation.

If you are interested in a role that will deliver great enjoyment, personal pride and satisfaction then look no further than The Percy Hedley Foundation. With a variety of support worker roles catering for both children and adults, flexible hours to suit and a wide range of shift patterns available we have a role for everyone. Fill in the form below and one of our recruitment team will give you a call to discuss current opportunities:

Support Worker

Are you a compassionate, caring team player who is committed to making a difference for adults and children? If so, we want to hear from you!

As one of the North East’s largest charities we support over 750 families every week.

The North East Support Worker role is to provide support to our children and adults safely, in an effective and caring way that is responsive to their individual needs, ensuring the highest standard of care is provided in a safe, positive and stimulating environment.

You will have experience providing personal care, ideally with an NVQ Level II in Care or a willingness to work towards this, we are looking for someone who is a team player with a flexible and positive attitude.

We are always on the look out for both full time support workers and part time staff and are delighted to offer a flexible approach around you and your availability.

A truly great company to work for, they look after your welfare at all times. Residents and service users are a pleasure to support, and supporting them has given me immense job satisfaction throughout my 12 years with The Foundation.

Linda Burnip, Support Worker Newcastle

I have had many positive experiences working at Percy Hedley, but the most positive experience is working alongside all the positive staff, working well as a team and keeping our service users safe and happy.

I thrive coming to work, I have a fantastic job which is so rewarding.

Joanne Denny, North East Support Worker

Support Worker Job Benefits

Our staff are our most important assets and we value all the hard work, commitment and passion from them every single day.

We focus on delivering a friendly and supportive working environment which focuses on staff development. Check out some of our support worker benefits below:

The Foundation is committed to investing in you and we promote both internal and external training opportunities to develop and grow your skillset and deliver a quality service.

We offer a minimum of 22 days holiday plus bank holidays rising to 27 days plus bank holidays.

Auto enrolment into the Peoples Pension with 3% employee contribution matched with 3% from the employer. This can be increased to 5% employee contribution and 5% employer contribution.

Percy Hedley Added Benefit Rewards
We offer a wealth of specially arranged discounts and savings at selected stores, such as 5% off at Morrison’s or Sainsburys.

Other retailers offering cashback and discounts include; Sainsburys, Asda, B&Q, Next, Argos, Carphone Warehouse and many more

Cycle To Work Scheme
If you are interested in cycling to work, you can buy a bike at a reduced rate and pay for it monthly through a deduction from your salary.

Occupational Health Support
We offer a generous sick pay scheme which will cover you for those times you are not fit to work, increasing each year of employment to a maximum of 5 months full and 5 months half pay.

Sometimes our colleagues undertake work which can be physically demanding with specific elements of personal care. To support our colleagues we ensure you are looked after in regard to physical work by working with physiotherapy clinic and refer staff who need it.

We work with various mental health and wellbeing clinics to support our colleagues to ensure everyone is supported throughout their employment.

As one of the largest charities and employers in North East England we are always on the lookout for great support worker staff who can help us continue to delivery a quality service every day. If you think you have what it takes to join The Foundation fill in the form above and of the team will give you a call to talk through your skills and how they may fit a vacancy.

Chief Executive Completes Offa’s Dyke Walking Challenge

Interim Chief Executive D’Arcy Myers recently completed his Offa’s Dyke walking challenge in support of The Foundation on Monday 31 May. During the 12 days of the challenge he:

  • Walked 190 miles
  • Completed 402,507 steps
  • Climbed 29,807 feet (Everest is 29,032)
  • Walked through 8 counties and crossed the England/Welsh border over 20 times
  • Passed through 600 stiles or kissing gates
  • Experienced rain, hale, high winds and sunshine in the wettest Welsh May in 160 years!

D’Arcy said:

“I wanted to do the walking challenge to reconnect with nature and as you can see from the photos, it definitely gave me the opportunity to do that!

It also gave me the space and time to reflect on my time so far at the Foundation and how I can be of the best service to help everyone at Percy Hedley during the rest of my time as interim CEO.”

To donate to D’Arcy’s Offas Dyke Challenge and help him raise funds for The Percy Hedley Foundation text PERCYTEN to 70085 to donate £10.

National Epilepsy Week

In recognition of National Epilepsy Week, #nationalepilepsyweek , we thought we would pull together some great information from The Foundations nursing team. Read all about how we look after epilepsy and read some of our frequently asked questions on epilepsy.

Epilepsy In The Percy Hedley Foundation

Within the Percy Hedley Foundation our team of highly skilled nurses,  education, care and residential staff are qualified to administer emergency medication to the children and people in their care following NHS seizure plan.

Every child, young person or adult in The Foundation with Epilepsy has their own personalised seizure plan which contains information on their seizures (triggers, what seizures look like) and how and these are controlled.

The Foundation also operates a `yellow bag procedure`. This yellow bag is provided to everyone who may require emergency medication and contains their medication and any care plan information.

These bags are locked and then always kept on the person at all times, in a convenient place. This ensures, not only that we keep all medication confidential but also that the medication is always quickly on hand should it be required.

Frequently Asked Questions About Epilepsy.

What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that affects the brain and causes recurring seizures or fits. Due to an uncontrolled increase of excess electrical activity in the brain interfering with the normal functions, this causes a short interruption to the relay of messages in the brain.

What causes Epilepsy?
Epilepsy can be caused by various conditions that affect a person’s brain. Some of the known causes include:

• Stroke.
• Brain tumour.
• Brain infection from parasites (malaria, neurocysticercosis), viruses (influenza, dengue, Zika), and bacteria.
• Traumatic brain injury or head injury.
• Loss of oxygen to the brain (for example, during birth).
• Some genetic disorders (eg. Down syndrome).
• Other neurologic diseases (eg. Alzheimer’s disease).

For 2 in 3 people, the cause of epilepsy is unknown. This type of epilepsy is called cryptogenic or idiopathic.

How many people have Epilepsy?
Approximately 600,000 people in the United Kingdom are diagnosed with epilepsy, affecting people of all ages, from newborns to the elderly.

This is the equivalent of 1 in every 103 people.

Every day 87 people are diagnosed with epilepsy.

What is a seizure?
An epileptic seizure results from a sudden electrical discharge in the brain that causes changes in sensation, behaviour or consciousness.
Seizures can take many forms because the brain is responsible for such a wide range of functions. Seizure symptoms depend on where in the brain this abnormal burst of electrical activity happens.

How long do seizures last?
As a result of the electrical activity, there are many different types of seizures – most usually last from a few seconds to a few minutes and usually stop without any treatment.

Are all seizures the same?
There are 40 different types of seizures and people may have one of several different types. Approximately 60% of people have tonic clonic seizures, 20% complex partial, 12% mixed tonic clonic and partial, 3% simple partial and less than 5% absence seizures, myoclonic seizures and other types.

Are Epilepsy seizures caused by light?
Approximately 3% of people diagnosed with epilepsy are photosensitive, which means their seizures are brought on by flashing lights.

What to do if someone has an epileptic seizure?
If you see someone having a seizure or fit, there are some simple things you can do to help. You should call 999 for an ambulance if you know it’s their first seizure or it’s lasting longer than 5 minutes.

It might be scary to witness, but do not panic.

If you’re with someone having a seizure:

  • only move them if they’re in danger, such as near a busy road or hot cooker
  • cushion their head if they’re on the ground
  • loosen any tight clothing around their neck, such as a collar or tie, to aid breathing
  • turn them on to their side after their convulsions stop – read more about the recovery position
  • stay with them and talk to them calmly until they recover
  • note the time the seizure starts and finishes

If the person is in a wheelchair, put the brakes on and leave any seatbelt or harness on. Support them gently and cushion their head, but do not try to move them.

Do not put anything in their mouth, including your fingers. They should not have any food or drink until they have fully recovered.

When to call an ambulance

Call 999 and ask for an ambulance if:

  • it’s the first time someone has had a seizure
  • the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes
  • the person does not regain full consciousness, or has several seizures without regaining consciousness
  • the person is seriously injured during the seizure

People with epilepsy do not always need to go to hospital every time they have a seizure.

Some people with epilepsy wear a special bracelet or carry a card to let medical professionals and anyone witnessing a seizure know they have epilepsy.

Check out more stories about The Percy Hedley Foundation here.

A day in the life of…A Physiotherapist

There are many diverse and interesting roles at The Percy Hedley Foundation. So, with this in mind, we would like to share some “Day in the life of….” features on our blog over the coming weeks.

First up! Our Physiotherapist Fiona Jenkins has kindly shared an insight into her role as a Physiotherapist.

Why and how did you become a college physiotherapist? 

After A-levels, I attended Northumbria University for six years and took two degrees back to back — biomedical science and physiotherapy. I qualified as a physio in 2008, and then worked in the NHS until 2015 specialising in neurology. But that year I also came back off maternity leave and needed a better work-life balance because my NHS job involved working weekends, being on call through the night, and on shift over Christmas and Easter. A job came up at the college and I got it!  

How challenging was the transition from NHS to college? 

I moved from my NHS specialism, neurology, and working with patients with MS or who had suffered stroke and brain injuries – to supporting young people aged 18-25 with learning disabilities, so it was about getting my head around communicating with people unable to talk or with profound disabilities and come up with new strategies – eg trying to treat students and have a really good rehab session. I had to adapt and work closely with other staff in college such as speech and language therapists. You have to look at how to get the best out of a particular student by working with the whole team around you and getting them to focus on how you want to proceed to achieve their target.  

What’s your main role? 

I started in 2015 as a senior physio when student numbers had doubled in one year. In early 2020 I became the college therapy team lead so I now operationally manage occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, and physios. Most of my week is spent working clinically as a physio offering various forms of hands-on physiotherapy. I have regular contact with staff, students and parents, make referrals to different specialists, and undertake colleagues’ performance reviews, and look at how we can improve quality and develop our services.   

What’s a typical day? 

I start at 8.30am with a staff meeting to discuss current issues or something coming up during the term. Teaching sessions run from around 9.30am to 3.30pm; we will either go into a session and integrate our therapy into that class or pull a student out of class and do, say, hydrotherapy or rebound therapy (on the trampoline). It could be a one- to-one session depending on a student’s needs. Twice weekly we have in-service training after work where we might teach staff new techniques or complete training.  

Approximately six students are in any one group (they may have cerebral palsy, autism or a range of other disorders and disabilities); not all students in any one group will have the same physical disabilities. We might, for instance, support a student in a maths session to use a standing frame or complete physio during the session so they are not just sitting in their wheelchair. Unlike NHS physios who would complete an initial assessment, set up a programme and then come back to review it six weeks later, we stay with the students, tweak their programmes as needed, and are really flexible in meeting their needs. We can therefore give very clear advice to the SSAs and tutors.   

After daily sessions finish, we write up our notes, and are regularly completing reports for local authorities – even though we are not part of the NHS, we still have to follow Chartered Society of Physiotherapy guidelines and the health standards of our regulatory body, the Health and Care Professions Council.  

Any significant tasks you have done recently? 

We have been restructuring our adult services within the Percy Hedley Foundation, which incidentally also includes College. We are recruiting heavily and I am supervising a new team of therapists, meaning I have been doing less clinical work in order to sort out a structure for the Hedleys Horizons service. 

How are you coping with Covid-19? 

It’s really challenging. Lots of students with respiratory problems would have been shielding; many have not returned to college this term even now. We’ve had to adapt, offering ‘out-patient’ clinics, home visits and remote online therapy sessions using the Microsoft Teams platform during which we monitor how students are coping with their exercise programmes and liaise with parents.  

We don’t do A-levels. All students have their own Education Health and Care plans – some have mild physical disabilities but are cognitively very able while others have profound and multiple learning disabilities. We have a large autistic cohort, including many students with behavioural, rather than physical difficulties, who require occupational therapy. Everyone’s needs are so variable and that makes it really interesting. It’s quite a special time to work with this age group as you are setting them up for adulthood.  

What’s the most challenging aspect of your role?  

Funding! Not all students automatically get their therapy funded so we have to assess them and recommend the therapy they need to the local authority for a decision. The problem comes when someone up to now has had therapy sessions every week, then at 18 they move to adult services and sometimes lose funding streams and deteriorate as a result. We have to fight for it through appeals and evidence and its getting harder and harder. 

An achievement you are really proud of? 

Guest lecturing at Sunderland University. We clinically supervise physiotherapy students who do placements with us and the university asked us to run sessions on learning disabilities. We talked about not assuming things about people based on how they present themselves, and get great feedback. It’s rewarding as we get to open new physiotherapists eyes to a less popular speciality within physiotherapy practice.  

Personal qualities and skills needed in your job? 

Good communications skills, the ability to see much more than speech as the way forward with people, and patient listening skills to understand that individual’s needs and thus get the best out of them. Plus being really flexible as every day can quickly change, particularly during the pandemic. 


You need a BA in physiotherapy, or you can opt to do a masters. You need experience in all the other areas related to physiotherapy -working in the NHS means you rotate around all the core subjects/services and then you can start deciding which areas of physiotherapy you want to specialise in. I quickly went into neurology as that was what I really enjoyed and now it’s begun to play a substantial role in the learning side of disability. But without my general NHS experience of orthopaedics, musculoskeletal, respiratory issues and other areas I’d not have the confidence to do my current job. 

What do you really enjoy doing at college? 

Seeing students who are very physically disabled on land and need support in everything enter a hydropool and swim by themselves, completely independently. It’s particularly good to give many students that sort of freedom to stop them deteriorating when they come to us because of often scant adult funding.    

Examples of students who have achieved something special?  

We have a couple of students who are ambassadors for disability with Newcastle United FC – they are so proud of this achievement and raise the profile of equality in sport. Also, one year ago we held a big sponsored fundraiser for Sport Relief and raised £1,200 – every student did some form of movement for a set period – whether it was swimming, jumping, walking, treadmilling – even though they might normally not have been able to do it. 

What spurs you on to work each day? 

Watching a student grow in confidence, especially those with physical disabilities. They may have spent a long time restricted by school rules and then realise they can, say, call teachers by their first names. This allows the nature of relationships to change and independence to blossom. We all support each other and work together as one big unit.  

Visiting our care homes – update to government guidance 08.04.21

We’re delighted that the government has now updated the visitor guidance so each resident will be able to have 2 nominated visitors!

We’re currently updating individual visiting plans and we’ll be in touch with families next week.

You can find the updated guidance here:


Farewell to Carole Harder, Chief Executive

Message from Chair of Trustees, Jonathan Jowett:

“After 10 years’ service, our Chief Executive (CEO), Carole Harder, has decided to step down as our CEO. Having steered the organisation through a number of challenges over the years including a major pandemic, Carole feels that now is the right time for her to step down and make the most of life’s opportunities, which includes travelling the world as the travel restrictions ease.

Carole will leave us at the end of April, with our best wishes for the future. Our Executive Team will continue to run the organisation in the immediate term, and the Trustees are hoping to have an Interim CEO appointed as quickly as possible, who will remain in place whilst we undertake a search for a permanent replacement.”

Read the full letter for more information:

Visits for our care home residents – COVID-19 update 11.03.21

Visiting arrangements in care homes

We’ve now received the government guidance on contact visits in care homes, which is summarised here:

Full guidance can be found here: Visiting arrangements in care homes

We’re currently working through the guidance and and reviewing our visitor policy and processes for each home as well as reviewing individual visiting plans for each resident. We’ll be in touch with families early next week with more information about how we plan to extend visiting options for residents in line with the new guidance.

Visits away from care homes

The government also published guidance this week about visits away from the care home:

Visits away from the care home

We’re also working through this new guidance and are reviewing individual risk assessments for each resident in line with the guidance. Please bear with us while we do this, we’re working as quickly as we can and we’ll update relatives as soon as we have more information.

We’re looking for volunteers to join our Board of Trustees

Are you passionate about making a difference?

Do you want to help shape our future direction?

We are looking for additional Trustees to strengthen our Board. The role is voluntary and is one of governance, working with the Executive team in setting our long term strategy, taking responsibility to ensure the charity is properly run and compliant and that the Foundation makes best use of resources.

You may also have skills or experience that may not be listed above but would strengthen the Board and we would encourage you to apply.

Apply now