Firstly I would like to start by introducing myself: My name is Jess Webb, I am 17 years old and I’m proud to say I have lived in Newton Aycliffe all of my life, and feel passionate about what happens within the town. I am currently studying A Levels at the Queen Elizabeth college in Darlington, and my plan is to apply to study journalism at university next year. The Newton News have kindly given me an opportunity to gain some experience by writing for the paper covering some key issues or stories occurring within our town.

So whilst we are all going through this difficult and unprecedented lockdown period. I thought I would start by interviewing a variety of key workers living and working in the town, in order to highlight and recognise the important role they play in our community, and to celebrate the commitment and resilience they have as individuals. I have asked them questions relating to how they achieved their Key Worker positions, so others might feel inspired and want to consider following in their footsteps!

The Cambridge dictionary defines a key worker as; “someone who is considered to provide an essential service, that is important for society”.

Our first key worker is Hollie McSkelly who is currently a Healthcare Assistant Apprentice at one of our local hospitals.

Hollie informed me that she has been in her job for two months supporting women on maternity and labour wards. She works alongside midwives to ensure that women and their families have the best care and support throughout their pregnancies, deliveries and recovery after birth.

Hollie is currently both earning a salary and gaining a vocational qualification, at the same time as learning the knowledge and skills required for her job role; which will then support her to progress in a career in the National Health Service.

She informed me that she previously worked as a waitress in a cafe, a junior shop assistant in a newsagents and then her first full time job was working in a nursery as a nursery practitioner; all which would have no doubt provided her with some transferable skills for her current role.

When asked what she likes most about her job, she replied that “Everyday is different and is challenging. I am able to learn new things everyday and work with many different healthcare professionals”.

When asked what she found difficult about her job, she informed me that the “long 12 hour shifts can be really draining”, but she said you then do work less days through the week which then gives her more time to complete her college work, so there are benefits to the shifts as well.

Hollie reported that some of the skills and qualities needed for her job includes:

• Communication, listening, and observational skills;

• Ability to work with different individuals;

• Ability to follow instructions, policies and procedures;

• Quick thinking and Problem solving skills;

• Ability to remain calm in different situations and work in a team;

It’s essential that everyone considers their work life balance to promote their own well-being, and when asked what Hollie does in her spare time, she reported enjoying shopping, eating out and socialising with friends. She also told me she was a big fan of all things Disney, (like me), and her favourite films are Wild Child, Mean Girls and Clueless.

When asked who has been Hollie’s inspiration in her life she didn’t even need to think “My Grandma and Grandad! They both have hearts of absolute gold and are amazing role models”.

I am sure you would like to join me in thanking Hollie, and recognising the key and vital role that she plays in society. Thank You Hollie and good luck in your studies and future career!