I have been caring in one manner or another for the previous twenty years – firstly for my elderly parents – my father had COPD and finally cancer, my mother developed Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia, and my children have had to cope with various difficulties.

During one particularly intensive period of caring in 2014, I realised I had no choice other than to give up work and move areas so that I could care full time. It was a huge change in my life – giving up my job of 23 years working in the Chief Executive’s office of a NHS Foundation Hospital Trust in Surrey as well as moving home.

My new GP surgery identified me as a carer, which led me to access the support, information and help I needed. This included putting me into contact with Carer Support Wiltshire (CSW) who were an absolute saviour during this period. They have been there for me in times of real crisis and provided support and direction when sometimes I didn’t know where to turn.  Absolutely amazing!

After three years full-time caring, I felt in a position where I really wanted to reach out and contribute something. Volunteering seemed the perfect solution and my first thought was CSW. They had provided me with so much help during difficult times and it was my chance to give something back.

I approached Vince Danaher, their Volunteer Manager, who offered me a friendly and informal first meeting at the Semington offices.  I explained my position in that I had been three years away from work, my confidence had dropped, and I just wanted to give a little back. I was unsure as to just how much I could commit hours-wise, but that wasn’t a problem.   We talked about areas in which I could potentially help, and I asked if I could join the Administration Team, which I eventually did!

I can honestly say that it was one of the best things I have done!  I was gently introduced into the organisation, and trained up on processes by the lovely Office Manager, Heather, pictured with me here.

I was so nervous, but I am so glad I took that initial step. It’s great to feel you can give just a little something back for all the help you’ve received. Volunteering has helped to build my confidence and given me a sense of pride.

I’d really encourage anyone else to ‘bite the bullet’ and have a go at volunteering!  It changes your outlook on your own life because things don’t appear quite so insular – and it’s really helped give me a lift.

There are so many opportunities within the organisation where help is greatly needed, whether it be admin, talk and support for carers, fundraising, running a café or group.

Go for it!

Susan, admin support at CSW