Penny Ball (aka Taylor) reflects on 11 years working with the Wandsworth Portage Service.
I recently left Wandsworth Portage service after nearly 11 years with the team. As I start a new life out of London with my husband, I have finally had an opportunity to stop and reflect on my own personal Portage journey.
When I started my Portage career at the age of 24, I certainly didn't have much life experience, but the head of the service at that time, Pauline Wilson, took me under her wing. As she neared the end of her career, she shared with me all her wisdom to support me at the start of mine.
I clearly remember standing on the doorstep of my first Portage family, nervously knocking on the door. But as soon as I saw the little face that met me, my nerves vanished. For an hour the family shared stories with me about their journey up to that point. I remember feeling hugely privileged to be involved at such a precious stage of their child's life, and I knew I was going to love my job.
I'd never anticipated staying with the service so long. But with each new family I met came a different experience from the last, and each day varied so much. I also found myself in a fantastic close knit team with excellent guidance from the team lead. I had many opportunities to develop professionally and support a growing service. The years just seemed to pass!
Portage work is very special. It comes with many emotions, sadness and tears, but also celebrations, smiles and laughter.
I would like to thank the wonderful families I have worked with over the years in Wandsworth and the fantastic Wandsworth Portage team.