Our compassionate team provides a friendly, thoughtful and tailored service to each and every one of our clients, filling a vital gap that exists from the point that individuals leave the care of the NHS and return into the community, often without support.
Our non-uniformed staff provide discreet assistance, setting our clients at ease, particularly when out and about in public places, such as shops. Providing an unobtrusive level of support in public helps our clients blossom in confidence, safe in the knowledge that assistance is there when needed, but in a way that is subtle and often unnoticed by others. We find that this approach is appreciated by clients who rely on our staff to help them cope with their personal mental health on their journey back towards indendence.
Our team is led by Marie and Sharon:
Marie Tolly, Director
Marie founded Independent Living West Country following the closure of Mind in Exeter and East Devon in 2018. Having been community team manager at MIND Exeter and East Devon, Marie was determined not to leave vulnerable people without support, and so opened the doors of the business on the Monday after MIND closed its operations, providing continuity and support for those in need. Marie has a passion to help everyone and anyone who needs help and doesn’t believe in saying no to anyone.
Sharon, Finance Director
Marie’s sister-in-law, Sharon, an accountant by profession, worked in Financial Services for nearly 20 years before joining Independent Living West Country in the summer 2019 to help manage the businesses’ finances. Sharon oversees the whole business, including its finances, to ensure that the business is in a strong position to grow its range of services to meet the needs of clients in Exeter, South and East Devon. It’s a challenge that she relishes.
From the very earliest of ages, Nikki has been involved with the care system. During her school summer holidays, she’d help out at her aunt’s care home near Dartmouth. It was an experience that she loved, talking with the older residents, and it set her on a life-long career caring for others, which you can find out more about here.
Over the years she’s worked with children that have experienced severe learning difficulties and complex conditions such as cerebral palsy. She’s managed care homes dealing with clients experiencing dementia, worked with soldiers suffering from PTSD, and created award-winning training packages for care-home staff.
Today, Nikki manages ILWC’s growing and devoted team of staff, but she also takes time out to work at the RD&E as healthcare support, where she holds a position equivalent that of a junior nurse. As part of ILWC fast response support team, this experience can be invaluable in ensuring the health and wellbeing of clients.
As well as managing the team, Nikki remains very hands-on, working directly with clients to give them the support they need, be that assisting with their dietary needs or even accompanying them kayaking to achieve one of their personal goals. You can find out more about Nikki’s story here.
Alison, Support Worker
Alison forms an integral part of our team of Support Workers here at Independent Living West Country (ILWC). Alison’s journey started when she worked as a Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support at a school in Jersey. Having relocated to Devon from the Channel Islands five years ago, she worked in the care industry before joining ILWC in April 2019.
Alison heard about ILWC through Marie Tolly, Founder of Independent Living West Country, and a former colleague of Alison’s when they worked together at Precious Homes in 2016. Having worked in a similar care-orientated role, supporting those with learning disabilities, autism and other health needs, Marie knew Alison would be the perfect fit for her team at ILWC – and she wasn’t disappointed. “All our clients love Alison,” says Marie. “At times we wish we could clone her.”
Building on many years of experience, having provided support for both children and adults, Alison naturally gives an abundance of patience, empathy and compassion to her clients. With a deep-seated passion for helping others, Alison enjoys every aspect of her job, particularly supporting individuals as they strive to achieve their personal goals, no matter how big or small they may be.
Outside her vital work at ILWC, Alison enjoys making the most of being outside in the countryside, gardening, wildlife (particularly butterflies), cooking and crochet.
You can read more about the life-changing support that Alison provides at ILWC and the daily commitment she makes to assisting individuals on their path to independence here.
Lauren, Support Worker
Lauren joined the team of Support Workers at Independent Living West Country in August 2019. She’s always been interested in mental health and developed a natural aptitude for caring from her mother, who worked in the profession when she was younger.
Having witnessed members of her own family struggle with mental health, Lauren has built an understanding of a range of debilitating conditions that can affect people and an interest in helping others.
Before joining Independent Living West Country, Lauren worked in retail for eight years. A friend and former colleague of fellow Support Worker Sam Ford, Lauren was inspired by her work and took little convincing to join the team, following in her Mother's footsteps.
Since joining, Lauren has completed a course on autism and enjoys helping clients with their day-to-day tasks. She assists with cleaning, among her many roles, and even accompanies clients on dog walks or swimming. She enjoys the huge satisfaction of watching clients taking part in social activities, experiencing independence and gaining confidence under her careful guidance and help.
In her spare time, Lauren spends quality time with her family, and would love to reignite her passion for riding horses. You can find out more about Lauren’s commitment to helping and encouraging others to achieve vital confidence and independence here.
Dan, Support Worker
Dan comes from a long line of carers in his family. Before he joined the team he was trained as an agricultural mechanic. Having also worked as an assistant in a care home, he knew that life in the garage was not for him. Instead, he joined Independent Living West Country where he provides in-home support to our many clients who contend with the daily struggles of living with mental health conditions.
Dan loves seeing the positive difference that he makes to the lives of those that he works with. In his own words, it’s the most fulfilling and rewarding job he’s ever done. It has also led to many surprising and uplifting experiences, including an apartment makeover during lockdown. You can find out more about how Dan brought light to the life of one of his clients during lockdown here. It’s. a fine example of how we take caring for the wellbeing our clients to a whole new level.
Sam, Support Worker
Sam is one of our great team of Support Workers at Independent Living West Country. Her personal journey to working in the care sector is fascinating. In 2010 she discovered that she had a pituitary tumour of the brain. It completely turned her world upside down. After going through a four-hour emergency operation, which saved her life, she spent three months in post-operative rehabilitation. This time allowed her to think about what she wanted in life, shifting her perspective, giving her the drive to embark on a new chapter; helping others.
Sam has a thorough understanding of debilitating conditions, having had a Great Aunt who had suffered from dementia. With her drive to assist those in need, Sam helps individuals to organise their lives and gain independence. She really enjoys helping clients gain confidence and is currently in the process of training her puppy, Sophie as a therapy dog. You can find out more about Sam’s story here and learn more about the services on offer at Independent Living West Country.
Our one-to-one assistants
Being supported by our one-to-one assistants will put you in the safe and caring hands of our experienced and compassionate team. Known for going that extra mile, each one of our Support Workers is dedicated to delivering a professional and purposeful service.