Star Wars and All Creatures Great and Small actor from Yorkshire switches career to become carer

Health leaders in North Yorkshire have launched a renewed recruitment drive to fill hundreds of vacant posts in the care sector which has witnessed an increasingly eclectic base for its new professionals.

The care industry in the county has a wide range of roles available as managers look to hire new recruits from professions which have been particularly badly hit during the coronavirus crisis.

North Yorkshire County Council employs more than 1,000 care and support workers and more than 250 Covid-19 relief workers were hired to help cope with the demands of the pandemic.

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About 65 relief workers have stayed on longer term, but there are currently vacancies for the equivalent of 57 full-time staff and hundreds more part-time workers across the care sector.

Michael Westlund in his caring role.

Among those who have switched their careers to the care sector is Michael Westlund, an aspiring actor who had seen himself on the set of high profile film and television productions, working alongside a host of stars.

But when Covid-19 put work on shows and films on hold, the 36-year-old opted to work at Scarborough’s Milestone House, which has operated as a short break service for people with learning disabilities and for those discharged from hospital in the past year.

Mr Westlund, who has worked on films and television shows including Star Wars, in which he played a stormtrooper, All Creatures Great and Small and the forthcoming Indiana Jones film, which brought Harrison Ford to the region, has stayed on to become a regular relief worker at the home in Seamer, near Scarborough.

He had been furloughed from Scarborough Spa, where he worked between acting engagements, and found Milestone House a welcome change from the demands of the hospitality sector.

Michael Westlund on set.

“I was looking to help out and thankfully got this job,” he said.

“I get a lot of satisfaction out of it, I do pretty much everything, personal care, taking people out around the village, doing activities with them.”

Another recruit to the care sector is rock drummer Jim McDermott, who decided on a career change when the music industry was badly hit by coronavirus with gigs having to be cancelled.

Mr McDermott, who has performed alongside world-famous stars including Kylie Minogue and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, offered his services as a care and support worker at a Harrogate care home.

The county council’s assistant director of adult social care, Rachel Bowes, said: “Working in the care sector is a rewarding experience for many different reasons, and we are grateful to those who have chosen to make a career in this area.”

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