We are delighted to welcome Erica McDonagh as our Emergency Card Scheme (ECS) Volunteer Administrator. Please read on to hear from Erica, who has kindly shared her thoughts on joining the Swindon Carers Centre team.
I’m very excited to have started volunteering for Swindon Carers Centre in February. When we went into our first national lockdown it created an opportunity to do something new.
I have walked in your shoes as an unpaid carer several times now. Over the years I have been an unpaid carer on three separate occasions. First, I was a young carer for my mum who had several chronic health conditions before her death from cancer when I was seventeen. Then, in 2015, after the sudden death of my late dad’s wife from a mental health condition, my brother and I took on long distance caring responsibilities for our father (who had a couple of chronic health conditions). He lived on his own more than 3,000 miles away from either of us. Not only did we have to consider our father, but we also had to consider the health and welfare of his five horses, nine cats and a dog!
Today, I am supporting a family member who has decided to self-isolate during the pandemic due to a health condition. This decision to self-isolate opened up the time and space for me to volunteer for a local charity, while looking after them and our two children who were being taught from home.
What I bring to Swindon Carers Centre is understanding and compassion. I have a long-term physical disability – Cerebral Palsy – right sided Hemiplegia, which has given me an understanding of what it is to live with a chronic health condition, and the impact that this can have on close friends and family. For more than twenty five years, I have chosen to work in the disability field. I have worked with individuals and organisations both nationally and internationally, here and abroad. I am passionate about helping people living with pain, illness and stress to re-claim their lives while mentoring and inspiring individuals along the way.
What I gain from volunteering is good health, and knowing that this ripple effect benefits society too. I hope carers and their families derive great benefit from signing up and being a part of the Emergency Card Scheme. I look forward to meeting many of you along the way on your caring journey.
In my spare time I enjoy being a trustee for a Swindon based charity. I also enjoy spending time with family and friends, walking, doing some yoga, meditation and horseback riding occasionally.
The Emergency Card Scheme is available to all carers over the age of 18. For more information on this, click here.