Shirley Potter
Shirley Potter

The first day of July marked my last day working for ARC after over 11 years! I can’t believe it is that long! When I first started here the organisation was called The Association for Residential Care, now over a decade later, I am leaving the Association for Real Change – a good indicator as any perhaps of some of the changes I have witnessed during my time here.

When I started working in the learning disability sector, what I really wanted to do, was to ‘make a difference’ in the lives of the individuals that we support.

I have seen some interesting changes both in the sector, learning disability services and in ARC. When I started at ARC I was managing LDAF (Learning Disability Awards Framework) which had just come into force. It was a revolution in ensuring that people working with individuals with a learning disability completed specialist training to ensure they were ‘fit for purpose’. I was involved in the review of the Induction and Foundation Standards when they became one ‘induction’ in recognition that it is important for staff to understand about safeguarding as soon as they start work and not 6 months down the line. This soon became the LDQ (Learning Disability Qualification), which was still very popular across the ARC member services. I worked hard to develop accessible training packages for front line staff as ARC offered both the Training and Assessment (working then with TASS UK).

However, soon more changes were coming and Skills for Care decided a generic Induction would be enough and those working in the sector could go on to complete the new flexible QCF (Qualification Credit Framework) Diplomas, Certificates and Awards. The flexibility of the QCF allows services to select specialist units for their staff to complete and helps ensure they are appropriately trained and qualified for their job role. I worked with Gill Shaw, ARC’s Workforce Development Manager, to develop training packages that deliver an enhanced induction and some individual units on the framework, always working to meet the needs of the sector.

Part of my role at ARC has been to manage funding for training. For those who remember and have a penchant for acronyms, funding for training was through TOPPS when I started at ARC, this is now WDF or Workforce Development Funding and ARC can still support service providers to ensure their staff are trained for their role!

In my time here I really feel things have moved forward, particularly with rights and choices for the individuals that we support. ‘Valuing People’ was a great leap forward, then ‘Valuing People Now’ and the ‘Personalisation Agenda’, etc. People with learning difficulties are increasingly involved in making the decisions about their life and their support packages more than they have ever been. I have developed accessible training packs to support individuals with the changes in their lives linked to gaining control over their lives such as the packs on understanding about money or living independently.

There are still problems within the sector, people are still slipping through the net, there are some poor services and funding is really stretched, but on the whole, over the last 11 years I can see a big difference in the lives of the people who we support and I can honestly and proudly say that I feel that working at ARC has made a difference!

I have thoroughly enjoyed my work at ARC and will miss my colleagues and contacts that I have established over the years. Through the years I have inevitably seen people come and go and recently I have seen the arrival of a new CEO who has ushered in a whole new era for the organisation. A constant throughout all these changes has been the determination of the staff who have been involved at ARC to always ensure that the ‘work goes on’ and I am leaving ARC knowing that my colleagues will continue to ensure ARC really does make a difference in lives of the individuals with learning disabilities that we support.


Shirley Potter

Head of Workforce Development