Being part of Carer’s First has been such a rewarding experience.
It has changed my perspective on life, caregiving, resilience and the power of organised community support.
I’ll tell you why...but first, let’s start at the beginning.
Covid, pandemic, furlough, lockdown – these are all words we became familiar with in 2020.
I’m grateful that during the pandemic, I had work. I still received my normal pay, didn’t have to go into the office and still could keep in touch with work colleagues over Teams, Zoom etc.
Sounds great right?
I worked as a Claims Relationship Manager within Legal and General’s Group Protection department.
During the pandemic and lockdown period, my workload peaked for long periods of time. I felt one day roll into the next.
As my workload surged, I began to re-examine my life.
The pandemic taught me valuable lesson about time – we need to value it, we need to cherish loved ones and help others.
This when I decided that I needed to help someone who I didn’t know.
I knew I needed to volunteer in some shape or form.
Legal and General’s intranet came to the rescue.
I saw Carers First were seeking volunteers. I had no idea who this charity was or what they did exactly. As I wasn’t commuting into the office as much, I had more time in the mornings so felt this could be a good use of my time.
The induction training with Carers First was swift yet thorough. I got allocated a Carer to contact and off I went.
I was hesitant, a little reluctant to call my carer when I first started.
But now, 20+ months later, I look forward to it.
This is because:
- I block the time out in my Outlook calendar
- I gain perspective from someone who is 80+ years old.
- I learn about life experience, politics, kindness and empathy
- I understand what it means to care for someone who may not have the capacity to appreciate it, but doing it anyway.
Having these conversations early in the morning sets me up for the day.
It gives me a sense of purpose.
Helping another human feel heard is one of life’s most underrated gifts.
When I speak with my carer, we go over a range of topics. We speak about him growing up in Barbados to his life in London now with daughters and grandchildren.
We talk about the news, the weather, gardening, cricket and even dominoes which he loves to play.
This experience with Carers First has been phenomenal especially since I didn’t even know a charity like this existed.
A carer can basically be anyone, they don’t ask for much and they are doing the best they can. They could do with someone just listening to them because they are always doing so much for others.
I call my carer on weekly basis and send a short summary of the conversation to Carers First via email so they know the general situation and if any support is required.
They even have volunteer drop-in clinics over Teams if you have any concerns, questions or just want a second opinion. This was very useful when I was first starting out.
This experience has really helped me understand compassion, kindness and listening to someone who isn’t in your bubble of friends, family or colleagues.
The conversations I’ve had with my carer have made me want to connect more with my friends and family in person as much as possible (rather than a WhatsApp message or call).
Is this experience transferrable to corporate work I hear you say?
Think about it this way, YOU are in control. You set the call schedule, you can change direction of the conversation. You can set the duration of the call.
These skills help in the workplace:
- planning, coordination;
- having boundaries
- meeting deadlines
- customer service
- empathy, active listening. . . the list really does go on.
So I’ll end with this, if you’re considering joining a charity, even it’s not Carers First – Give It A Go.
You have nothing to lose.
You will feel more connected as a human and will appreciate the community around you.
Imagine if more people cared FIRST.