At a time when we are hearing about many support workers going above and beyond in difficult conditions, the actions of Richard Kibaja, a support worker based in Reading, have really stood out during this current crisis.
At the start of lockdown, Richard was on annual leave but he chose to come back into work and help out, without even reclaiming the time. He began to contact the parents of the people we support, organising and offering to go food shopping for them and their families if they were self-isolating or shielding. Every week he sees around 10 different parents and families, doing their weekly shopping for them in his own time. Says Roger and Mary, the parents of Helene who we support in Reading, “We would just like to express our continued gratitude for the wonderful job Richard is doing with our shopping. We are most grateful that he is doing this for us and therefore protecting our family.”
Recently, the mum of someone we support had emailed Locality Manager Mirna Zestic asking for help as she had been unable to find any pasta in her local shops. Says Lyn,
“Richard went out of his way to shop for us, it is so very kind of him to bring us the pasta. I cannot fault him at all, and praise him in his support and help for others in this horrible time. He is a kind, caring support worker, with a big heart.”
Lyn is so grateful for everything that Richard has done for them that she has designed and handknitted a cushion for him.
As well as shopping for the most vulnerable in the region, he also successfully managed to sweet talk the manager of his local Morrison’s to donate 60 Easter eggs for the people we support in the area, which he then delivered. This story was featured in The Wokingham Paper in April. When one of the managers in the region had to shield at home for 12 weeks, Richard found out that she had been unable to buy an Easter egg for her disabled son. Richard went straight out and bought one, bringing it to her house.
Richard’s support does not stop when his shift does. He lives near someone we support who lives alone, so every evening Richard invites him along on a walk and they walk together.
Richard is well known in his region for always going above and beyond. From organising balls, Parents’ Forums, being a regular and active member of the Employee Forum, and giving presentations at Opportunity fairs, he is already considered the heart and soul of the region. Whenever there is a regional event, Richard will organise it all, from food to filming to ticket distribution.
The most compliments in the locality are received on his behalf. Richard supports Aaron, and his mum recorded a video to pay tribute to Richard. Says Mum, “I’d love to say that Richard has been absolutely marvellous with Aaron. He’s brought him out, helped him so much… and I don’t know what I’d do without him, quite honestly. It’s fantastic how Aaron has improved when he’s with Richard. Richard can get him to do anything. I’m so grateful to him, I really am.”
Richard is appreciated by the people he supports as well, with Joseph adding,
“If I could sum up Richard in three words, it would be friendly, caring and enthusiastic. He looks out for everyone… He’s one in a million, an amazing guy.”
“The most compliments in the locality are received on his behalf. You just need to ask him, ‘where are you?’ and he will say, ‘what do you need?’”
We’d like to say thank you to Richard and the other support workers like him who are true CoronaHeroes. You can read more stories here: https://bit.ly/DimensionsCoronaHeroes