Case study

Pan Toure

Pan Toure

Occupational Therapist Apprentice

Social care, as it is in the UK, is not available in the Ivory Coast, the country where I was born and brought up. Being an Occupational Therapist would never have crossed my mind. I was studying Law when circumstances prompted me to leave the Ivory Coast and come to the UK, seeking stability and the opportunity to learn English.

Arriving in London in 2003 with a student visa and French as my native language, I enrolled at college and worked as a Sous Chef in the evening. Although my English was progressing, I had to accept that studying Law in the UK was not an option. The ‘Common Law’ system here, is very different from the system of law I was familiar with. I was contemplating a career in IT when a chance meeting on a bus opened up a world of opportunities in social care. The doctor sitting next to me struck up a conversation. He had noticed my tired demeanour and suggested I needed a better work/study balance.

The doctor invited me to attend a 1-week course in Social Care. I was hooked. On completing the course, I applied for work in domiciliary care, in London, and was successful. I enjoyed the work and meeting and talking to people in their own homes gave me confidence in English; the colloquialisms, language of humour and everyday life.

My education moved on a pace and I completed my NVQ levels 2, 3 & 4 in Social Care. Having moved from Domiciliary Care to a Nursing Home, I also completed my level 7 Diploma in Health & Social Care Management.

By this time I was married, with full employment rights and living and working in Hampshire. Employed as a Senior Carer in a nursing home, opportunities to progress my career were limited. This is when I applied to Hampshire County Council.

I was appointed as a Community Response Assistant Level 2. My colleagues and managers were really open and supportive. They shared their knowledge and skills and gave me added responsibilities to help me develop. Within a year I was a Team Leader. Recognised as a valued member of the team, I was delighted to be selected for the Apprenticeship to become an Occupational Therapist. Although my start was delayed whilst I sat (and passed) English and Maths exams, equivalent to GCSE, I am very much on track.

My advice is, ‘don’t limit yourself’. As a French speaking student arriving in the UK with little appreciation of what my options were, I’m delighted with how things are turning out.

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