“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyse you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.
– Bernice Johnson Reagon
I know exactly how you are feeling veering between terror, butterflies and excitement. It is perhaps the fear of the unknown that is most daunting.
Relax and be kind to yourself, always be kind to yourself. You are entering the caring profession and the first person to care about is YOU.
You will have a lot to do before you leave, take some time to spend with family and friends, pamper yourself a little now. Take photos, make sure all your contacts are on ‘WhatsApp’, this is fantastic for keeping in touch with the family and loved ones.
WIFI is good in the UK, and you will be mostly connected meaning that when you are in a local high street you should be able to pick up a local free connection from one of the retailers etc. When you are at Heathrow you will access to Wifi so at least you can get organised before you start your outgoing journey.
The majority of clients have wifi installed and the agencies normally insist on wifi being installed if it is not present. Google will definitely become your best friend.
Your first purchase and essential piece of equipment is a good suitcase. The best is one that is light and has four wheels, the lighter and sturdier the better.
A substantial Handbag, mine is quite large and holds my Mac- Book, I bought it for this reason as my computer is my new child and my best friend.
Buy Small shampoos, conditioners, shower gel, etc as the weight of these quickly adds up. Health shops abound in the UK so don’t waste your money in SA you may find cheaper and better alternatives from the UK.
Thermal basics are essential, initially you will feel the cold so it is a good idea to invest in thin thermal vests and tights. These keep me warm and don’t add bulk.
I have created my own uniform as I find this saves me money and time. I wear black pants, black tops, a black cardigan, black shoes and black patent leather ‘MBT’s’ of ‘FitFlops’. I have a thin black trench coat that I bought from Zara’s, black gloves and a hat that have black faux fur around the edge that makes me feel like an undercover Russian agent!
Yet, I can easily smarten this up with scarves, varying coloured gloves, a quirky hat, some silver jewellery and high shoes. I try to be smart, I have found it’s worked in my favour, as generally I am treated with respect. I think it is very important to maintain dignity, if you look good then you feel good. Having this, ‘homemade uniform’ saves so much time, especially in the mornings, there is no choosing an outfit, so life is easier.
Pack at least one pair of PJ’s and a thin nightgown. I bought a beautiful one at Whites, it’s silky, yet warm, and easy to pack. Include at least one outfit just for you for going out and having fun, or relaxing in favourite jeans and boots.
Purchase a folder to house copies of all your paperwork, including copies of passports, driver’s license etc keep this in your carry-on case. Take photos of all these documents and keep on your phone.
I pair of super comfortable yet still smart shoes, a pair of heals and boots.
I have bought two pairs of MBT shoes they are exceptionally comfortable and can walk for miles, another alternative is Sketchers or Fit-Flops all have smart styles, though MBT my favourite still looks a little sad. My girls are embarrassed by my shoes and have given up on me, but I can run for trains and busses, climb stairs fast, walk silently in clients houses and most of all are comfortable. I call them ‘Ugly Chic’! They are not cheap but again, and again you will be so grateful for them.
Take plenty of underwear, you may not get to a washing machine for ten days.
Initially you will need towels, check with your agency, it de- pends on where you do your training!
Pack hairdryer and other electrical equipment. If this is ex- pensive, it might be better to keep in hand luggage.
Buy international adaptors including USB plugs, perhaps invest in a power charger for phone and computer. You should be able to charge your phone on the flight over to the UK via a USB, make sure you do as you have no idea how long it will be until you get to charge it again.
Buy a Diary and a notebook both will be essential.
Choosing Your Flights and Airline
When I first started money was tight so I found the cheapest flight with Ethiopian Airways, it wasn’t great the stopover was in Addis Ababa and this is not the best airport. Nonetheless, I made friends with a young couple and we had supper and wine together. This helped to settle the nerves.
Most recently I have been using Emirates, and they are amazing; everything about them is good. I like to speak to flight centre or friends who have recently travelled to get their views on the best airlines to try.
I like to book a seat near the window as I have somewhere to rest my head and I find it offers more privacy. Better still if you can get a seat near one of the exits as there is more leg room.
Arrange your travel, most of this can be done online, but travel agents can help too and sometimes it’s great to speak with someone and get an idea on how each airline is changing and what on board services they offer.
Visit your bank and tell them you will be out of the country for a while working, that pounds will be coming into your account. Order some pounds in advance of your trip.
I am a tech person so I may be over the top here, but my computer, for me, has been my lifeline, yet many manage with an iPad or Tablet and phone.
You will need some sort of a computer to create invoices, email clients, and their relations, email your agency with re- ports, apply for jobs, keep on top of banking, transferring money, entertainment, education, and more.
My phone too is invaluable, ‘Google Maps’ keeps me going in the right direction, WhatsApp keeps me connected to my family, ‘Carer Facebook Groups’ makes me feel a part of something and a great place to meet new friends. I Google everything, from medications to fixing a vacuum cleaner, Google has been a saviour.
I use O2 in the UK on pay & go at £20.00 per month, and this gives me plenty of call time and about 3 gb of data which is sufficient for the month as mostly the phone picks up WIFI. These rates are constantly updated. You can pick up a new sim card at Heathrow and most major airports.
All these need chargers, cables, and adaptors. I bought an ad- apter that would take five appliances so I can dry hair, plug in a fan, keep computer, and the phone charged, etc.
Load movies and series onto your computer for your own entertainment plus some music and photos to keep you happy.
Several companies offer UK ‘Kickstart Packages’, these offer a plethora of helpful quick start solutions to getting you set up in the UK. These include helping with setting up a bank ac- count, organising a Sim card and much more. They will help you to attain a NI number (National Insurance number) from the day you begin working you will be paying towards national insurance and this qualifies you a number of state benefits.
Offer the below services for R650.00 https://www.1stcon- tact.com/kickstart
- A UK bank account with Lloyds, HSBC, or Metro bank
- National Insurance number assistance (a DIY guide on registering for your NI number)
- A UK mobile SIM card (with one of the top five leading mo- bile network providers in the UK)
- CV and job assistance
- One free international money transfer
- Accommodation assistance
- Free five-day gym membership at Fitness First Gym
- Discounts and vouchers from our trusted partners Ist Contact are widely respected read their reviews, my re- search tells me there is an alternative in SableInternational.
Landing in the UK
“Every year should be teaching us something valuable. Whether you get the lesson is really up to you “
– Oprah Winfrey
Before landing at Heathrow download a map of the airport so you know where you are and where you need to get to for your transit onto your next destination.
It takes a while, once the plane has landed, to walk through numerous walkways, through passport control and then find your luggage and finally make it through customs. Allow an hour.
If you have no one in the UK, it may be wise to get a Sim Card at Heathrow and then maybe have one night at a B&B or a hotel near Heathrow. You will be tired physically and emotion- ally, be kind to yourself.
Plan your trip for the next day, use www.trainline.co.uk for rail bookings, these can be done online. Public transport in the UK is very good and provides liberating freedom.
Allow yourself plenty of time for travel to your week of train- ing. Check each station for lifts and escalators; otherwise, you will be carrying your suitcases up staircases. I have done this so many times, and it’s near impossible, as not enough arms and not enough strength.
If you are anything like me, I was very nervous about spending money in the UK before earning any. So to put your mind at rest let’s calculate your initial costs.
- You will need the airfare to the UK approximately, £450.00 dependent, on the season airline selected.
- One night in B&B or Hotel on landing, budget 41
- Transport from Hotel to training in Wales by train i.e. £60.00
- 5 Nights’ accommodation with Care agency at approximately £150.00
- Plus some food and transport out to B&B or onto new job £150.00
- DBS Certification( Police clearance) £70.00 This could come to as much as£1000.00 conservatively. The good news is that within one week of working you would have made £600.00 so within two weeks your debt is paid off. Within a month, you are £1000.00 in credit. Month two and you will save a further £2000.00 conservatively. Obviously this will change according to currency exchange at the time. Very quickly you can start to accumulate money and make a difference to your future. So be brave and take the next step.
B&B’s near Heathrow Airport http://www.oakwoodbe- dandbreakfastheath row.com/
http://www.heathrowlodgehotel.co.uk/ourro oms/. (very cheap)
Or check out Air B&B alternatively some hostels are good too, I have heard that particularly the one in Bath.
Always remember to keep receipts or photograph them on your phone as this will date stamp them too, as these will be your first expenses. For filing your tax return at the end of the year.
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