This Volunteers Week we are celebrating the huge contribution that volunteers make to our charity.
Here one of our volunteers tells us how she uses her experience as a carer to help influence carer policy and services across Wiltshire.
Catharine Dawson – volunteers for Wiltshire Carer Involvement Group and GP accreditation review
I chose to volunteer by joining the Wiltshire Carer Involvement Group at Carer Support Wiltshire because I have experience as a parent carer and (later) became wholly responsible for sorting out my elderly widowed mother’s hospital and care needs, which were complicated by her living in a different county (Gloucestershire)! Both these experiences make me aware of how helpful it is to have support, even if only to realise that you are not alone. I have experience of helping parents of SEN children with educational concerns as an Independent Parental Supporter whilst living in Oxon and I felt I could put those skills to good use at Carer Support Wiltshire.
I do several other volunteering roles each of which uses a different set of skills and makes me happy that I am using my time and skills in a worthwhile way which helps other people. This is especially important to me now because, due to technological change, my employment no longer felt fulfilling or worthwhile and as I was in the position to be able to make the choice to resign which I did a few years ago, which took a lot of courage!
I have been surprised at how much the professionals respect us and treat us as equal partners at Carer Support Wiltshire and at their genuine concern for carers, which belies the common image of health management and social policy professionals. I also enjoy meeting other carers who I wouldn’t otherwise meet in a month of Sundays! At the support sessions we not only often advise and commiserate with each other but also have a very good laugh!
I continue to volunteer because the need for user feedback on social policy is always ongoing and I am still enjoying my role and feeling that I have something to offer.