Hayley Favell at Jigsaw Opportunities Centre

Working in adult social care never occurred to 37-year-old Hayley Favell from Clacton when she left school.

After initially working in a seasonal role as a children’s entertainer at local holiday parks, Hayley soon felt the pull to work more closely with people, so she took up a role at a charity that provides accommodation and personal care for those with a learning disability or autistic spectrum condition.

It was here, at just aged 19, that Hayley Favell discovered her passion for supporting those with autism to fulfil their potential.

Hayley, who went on to work at Autism Anglia, has now worked in adult social care for 18 years and says that she wouldn’t consider any other career now.

Working at the Autism Anglia Jigsaw Centre, which is a specialist Day Centre in Colchester supporting over 60 autistic adults each week, Hayley gets involved with a huge variety of activities. These are all geared towards helping independent living and develop social skills, improve self-confidence and everyday life know-how. Attendees also get the chance to enjoy existing hobbies or try new activities.

Autism Anglia takes a personalised approach which is outcomes focused so that each session Hayley leads is bespoke to the needs of the person. Activities can include learning how to cook healthy food, getting physical activity, learning how to play music, getting support to open a bank account and help with sorting out utility bills.

Hayley says that she loves her current role as every day is completely different and seeing the difference you can make to someone’s life, no matter how small, is so rewarding.

It can be upsetting to see someone come through the door who may not even be comfortable looking at you but then it’s amazing to watch them slowly coming out of their shell; all from just helping them with the little things that we all take for granted. You get such a sense of achievement when you see small progressions in their social skills.  

A few years ago, I had a young woman who would always wear a hat pulled down over her face, and she would need to write everything down instead of talking to me. Over time she felt comfortable to take her hat off during our sessions and I started to see her become a completely different person.

As she got to trust me, I would take her on day-trips away from the centre. We would go to an amusement park or have dinner out – it was like having a day out with a friend for the both of us. To her though, it was a life changing experience as she had never had that sort of companionship before, and it really boosted her morale.

Hayley Favell outside the Autism Anglia Jigsaw Centre in Colchester

Pictured: Hayley Favell outside the Autism Anglia Jigsaw Centre in Colchester

Many of the visitors at the Jigsaw Centre experience similar social isolation. Their whole social life can revolve around their family, if they have family, so coming to the centre can be an integral part of their lives. Sometimes, Hayley might be the only person they see that week. She knows that a friendly smile or stopping to have a cup of tea with them can make all the difference in the world.

Hayley says that helping visitors to understand and work with their diagnosis is a big part of boosting their self-confidence and self-worth.


We all have fantastic training with Autism Anglia to help us support those on the autistic spectrum, but the opportunities don’t just end there. We have access to adult education qualifications, first aid, Makaton, mental health, safeguarding and much more – we are basically given anything that helps us to perform our role to the best of our ability.

“This not only ensures that we provide the best service possible, but it develops me personally. I take such an interest in learning all I can about autism that I even completed an Open University Course funded by Autism Anglia.  

There are just so many different avenues within adult social care and a real opportunity to progress within the sector. Just look at me – I started off as a Lifeskills Instructor, progressing to develop and open a new personal and social development department. Now I’m involved with planning, managing and developing the Jigsaw Centre, alongside management.

Working in adult social care is simply the best job. I love coming out of work knowing that I’ve achieved something that day and made a difference to someone, no matter how small. It’s also made a big difference to my own outlook on life and has shaped me to become a better parent. The fact I’ve been doing it for nearly two decades is testament how much I get from it. I would strongly advocate it as a viable and rewarding career.

Samantha Ambrose, Manager, Residential and Supported Living Services

I began working at Peldon Old Rectory in 2004 as part time weekend cover.  I found out about Autism Anglia as a member of my family used to work as a support worker doing awake night shifts and I would love to listen to the stories she came home with. When my college days became less I completed more hours to help out with covering shifts.  We would go on rambles, sailing, beach trips, swimming and visit theme parks. I worked at other houses as a bank staff member which I enjoyed as I got to meet new people and see the difference in those I supported and also the varying abilities of those I was working alongside. This also helped as we then had a transition with a young man I worked with at Coldwell Villa into Peldon Old Rectory, I had a small insight into his likes and ways to work with him to help him settle feeling more settled and a face of familiarity.

I would always help with any extra paperwork and jobs I could and decided to apply for a Duty Officer vacancy, and I got the job!  I then became pregnant but returned after 9 months to my role.  Another pregnancy and I then came back to Peldon Campus and after 6 months I applied for, a Senior Support Worker vacancy as I felt ready to improve my professional development.

I continued in my Senior Support worker role until January 2016, when I put together my first presentation and attended an interview for an Acting Deputy Manager role to cover maternity leave. 13 months later and another presentation and interview under my belt I was promoted to Deputy Service Manager of Residential and Supported Living Services.  In 2020 I was promoted again to Manager at the Peldon Campus, an achievement I am really proud of. 

I feel I have gained so much knowledge and have grown as a person and in confidence too in this role.  I have loved the journey I have been on up to now and the people I have met along the way.  In the role I am now in, I have had the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and also see the difference in services and the people we support.  Working with a great bunch of people always makes it all so much better!

Comments from Guy, a young man who we support

“I find Autism Anglia a very good organisation to be with. They have helped me a lot over the years. I used to be with another care company and attended their day centre which I didn’t like as I didn’t feel listened to and they were very bossy. I was helped by Autism Anglia’s adult services support team and now attend Jigsaw and really enjoy it. I live in a supported living house and now I am really happy. I like Autism Anglia because I think the staff are very good at their jobs, they are very understanding and listen to me and tailor my support around my needs.

I like to go out to my favourite pub and go for walks with my support workers. I also really enjoy going out on ghost hunts at historical places as I am really interested in history and the paranormal. I also love just sitting and having a cup of tea and a chat with my support workers.”