Cabin crew and circus entertainer become carers

From a world-record-holding circus entertainer to a globetrotting member of cabin crew, a family-run care group is giving those who’ve been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic a new lease of life in social care.

With unemployment on the rise due to national lockdowns and social distancing practices brought on by COVID-19, Nellsar has been helping those made redundant or unable to find work in their previous employment to start new ventures in social care, as it offers roles across its 13 care homes in Kent, Surrey and Essex.

One of those people is Danielle Martin, who recently joined Nellsar as a recreation and well-being champion at The Old Downs Residential Care Centre, near Dartford, Kent.

Used to going by the stage name Daniella D’Ville, the circus and sideshow entertainer had graced the stage and screen for more than a decade before the pandemic hit, appearing in a variety of theatre shows, festivals, cabarets, and TV shows.

A classical dancer and holder of seven Guinness World Records, Daniella recalls how she went from sword swallowing and snake charming to caring for Nellsar’s elderly residents.

‘The events of this year meant all my jobs were cancelled, so I was looking for new work.

‘I actually didn’t even know this type of job existed until I found it online and as I read more about it, I realised how suited I would be for it.

‘My previous role and being a recreation and well-being champion are very different jobs in one sense, but there are similarities. In both, you want to make people smile, grab their attention and get them to come on a journey with you and offer some escapism.’

Transferring her skills as an entertainer for the general public, Daniella plans to use her experience in producing large-scale events to create captivating, fun-filled activities for her new audience; the residents at The Old Downs.

Another new face is Hayley Bowles, who has joined Nellsar’s Lukestone Care Centre, in Maidstone, as a recreation and well-being liaison.

Having spent 15 years with British Airways as long-haul flight cabin crew, jetting to destinations from Costa Rica to Peru and everywhere in between, Hayley, like many airline cabin crew, found herself jobless following the pandemic.

Despite the change in scenery, a new career in social care saw Hayley settle in very quickly, having amassed some of the key skills needed to care for residents during her time in the skies.

‘As cabin crew, I was always keen to be on hand to assist the elderly on board, which is how I knew I would fit well into a care environment. Helping people comes naturally to me.

‘My role was centred around communication and I was required to keep people safe and deal with every situation. People skills and emotional intelligence were key.’

‘I’m used to working with different people, a different mix of personalities and dynamics, which is the same as found in a care home.

‘It’s about getting to know people really well so you can build up trust and friendship.’

Martin Barrett, Nellsar’s managing director, said: ‘At Nellsar, we promote and seek out creative, transferable skills across our highly professional workforce and so it was only right to offer opportunities to those who behold these unique skillsets and who found themselves at unforeseen crossroads in their careers.

‘Since the pandemic began, we’ve taken on people from all different backgrounds, some of whom hadn’t previously worked or even thought about a career in social care, but who have excelled in their new roles and are now crucial team members in their respective homes.’

‘The clue is in the name of social care; it’s about being able to care and show empathy, understanding and compassion to others.

‘Ultimately, we work in the people sector, and if others have had experience working and engaging with the elderly, then the opportunity is there to transfer those skills into a new, exciting career where they can make a real difference to people’s lives.

‘That’s special, and it’s something Nellsar will continue to promote going forward into next year.’

For those who are interested in a career in care, Nellsar’s latest job vacancies can be found here.

Photo Credit – Nellsar


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