My name is Louise Antley and for over thirty years I have been working within the health and social care sector.

I wasn’t always in this field – ‘once upon a time’ I was a Police officer in Manchester City Centre and even though that was a whirlwind of only four years, I do believe it gave me a grounding for what lay ahead.

I would like to think that my honesty, professionalism and problem-solving skills came from this period of my life. Being able to converse with virtually anyone, no matter what age and what background, has served me well.

Throughout my subsequent career in health and social care, providing good customer service coupled with having good values has always been close to my heart. Having a happy ‘customer’ means the world to me. It did when I started and I am proud to say, it still does.

When I left the Police, it is fair to say I was taking a real chance applying for a Supported Living Support Worker position in Stockport. I had no previous experience and didn’t really know anything about learning disabilities and autism.

After just nine months in my new role as a support worker, I took an opportunity to become an Assistant Manager with three houses and teams to manage. I had finally found what the Police service didn’t give me, a belief that we were making a positive difference to people’s lives, and more importantly that this was actively encouraged.

I stayed at Stockport for over a decade, but eventually I felt like I needed a change. To Salford I came! Firstly, with the Council as an Assistant Manager with the Supported Living service, before progressing to became a Network Manager with more responsibility. When Aspire was formed in 2015, I was asked by the CEO to consider becoming a Compliance and Risk Manager. I remember leaving her office and Googling – ‘what is a Compliance and Risk manager?’. I had no idea, but soon found out!

Since I came to Salford in 2005, I have had several job titles and quite a few office moves, but I can categorically say that I feel content and fulfilled in my current role of Quality and Compliance Manager. The role evolved to also include Quality, which I feel plays to my strengths. As a Quality and Compliance Manager I am responsible for ensuring that the company’s products, services, and processes comply with relevant standards, regulations, and internal policies. My primary goal is to maintain high standards of quality, safety, and legality within the organisation.

I am a believer that ‘half measures’ in social care are not always enough. Reaching for high standards and achieving positive meaningful outcomes for everyone – including staff, visitors, and families, as well as people supported, is my drive and a constant reminder to keep asking “what have we learnt from this and how can we do this better?”.

I know that engaging in tasks that are challenging and intellectually stimulating contributes to my overall job satisfaction, and this role certainly offers me this in abundance!

I often reflect on how my life would have turned out if I had stayed in the Police. Family and friends were shocked when I resigned, as they considered I had a ‘job for life’. But leaving it, gave me my life back, and being a part of the Aspire ‘family’ I have felt valued and appreciated. I know that I can contribute to something meaningful, and this gives me a sense of purpose.

As a young woman in the Police force all those years ago, it was an unpleasant work environment and could be very oppressive. I experienced intimidation and was patronised regularly. Yes, there were moments of job satisfaction, even excitement, but I felt I just couldn’t be my natural self and that to me, is very important. At Aspire, we are very diverse, with everyone encouraged to be their true authentic self. This brings an eclectic mix, but one that is healthy and progressive in its outlook.

With International Women’s Day being an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions and achievements of women, I would recommend a career in Quality and Compliance as it’s varied, interesting and essential to the successful running of a company. But my top tip is, be a ‘people person’ and as Barack Obama once said “”Empowering women isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing to do. When women succeed, nations are more safe, secure, and prosperous.”

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