A mum-of-three, who swapped retail for care work after her dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour, has been nominated for a care newcomer award for her work at a supported housing scheme.

At the height of the pandemic last November, Julie Birkett from Colne switched from working in retail to a job within the care sector, helping people living in Colne's new supported housing scheme, Limes Place.

And according to her boss, Mark Storey, the 32-year-old made a huge difference to the people she was supporting from day one.

Ms Birkett said making the move into care work had been on her mind since her dad was diagnosed with a fatal brain tumour three years earlier.

Lancashire Telegraph: Julie Birkett with Limes Place tenants

She said: "Three years ago, my dad received a brain tumour diagnosis and was given 10 weeks to live. He was only 59 years old.

"He lost all movement down one side, became incontinent and lost the ability to talk.

"During this time I helped my mum nurse him at home before he passed.

"Seeing all the nurses and carers come in, and do a brilliant job, was really comforting at an awful time for us, and it's then that I started to feel like working in the care sector would be something I wanted to do."

Since taking up her new position at Limes Place, a purpose built supported housing scheme that provides residential and personal care for people living with mental health conditions, Julie has introduced a number of activities that have proved a hit with the tenants, including games nights, walking groups and a choir practice.

She's also organised a sponsored litter pick next month, to raise funds to start an arts and crafts group.

After the first lockdown hit her hard, Julie said she recognises the importance of keeping active and busy: "I was furloughed and it really had a big effect on my mental health.

"All the days ran into one and I didn't get dressed for days at a time.

"So when I started working at Limes Place I knew if someone with no previous mental health issues could be so affected by the lockdown, then people living with conditions like bipolar and schizophrenia would no doubt be really struggling.

"This made me want to start some activities up so all the tenants had things to look forward to throughout the week and give them some hope back and a bit of fun and excitement too.

"It's really changed Limes Place. All the tenants, even ones who were unsociable, are now really enjoying these activities."

Lancashire Telegraph: Julie Birkett with Limes Place tenants

Registered manager at Limes Place, Mark Storey, said: "From her first week Julie was ready to take this new challenge and has continued to grow in confidence ever since.

"She has quickly become a valued member of the team and is a pleasure to work with.

"Julie has built fantastic relationships with tenants and since her first day, she has made a huge difference to the lives of the people living at the service.

“I don’t believe Julie recognises how much of a difference she continues to make and how well respected she is by all at Limes Place.

"She would be very well deserving of this award."

Ms Birkett will find out if she has won a Great British Care Award at a gala dinner at the Kimpton Hotel in Manchester on Saturday.

You can contribute to Julie's litter pick fundraiser on 3 December for Limes Places' new arts and craft club here