I spent some time with our volunteer and former carer, Jean McKellar, who very kindly told me her story.
“I started coming to RCSS in 2002 when I registered as a carer. I was a carer for my husband, Neil, who I sadly lost 6 years ago. We were married for 55 years and I was his carer for 25 of those. Neil went on a golfing trip and began suffering from gastroenteritis. Within 2 days of coming home from the trip he was paralysed, and in 2004 he had to have both legs amputated. Despite this, we both kept our sense of humour and lived a pretty good life together.
Coming to RCSS was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I even told Princess Anne this on her visit last year! I really appreciated the support I got and being able to meet other people who understood the situation I was in.
I chose to volunteer because I wanted to share the experience I’ve had over 25 years with other people and I enjoy meeting all kinds of different people. I personally feel as if I have a need to volunteer with RCSS for myself. I’m a confident person and it’s nice to make people laugh. I help out at Mosaic Art classes which take place every Thursday afternoon from 1pm-3.30pm. It really brings out your artistic side and gives carers time to do something that is just for them, and also to meet others in similar situations. It feels like an achievement to take something home that you have made yourself.
I also volunteer as a befriender supporting an 85 year old carer who looks after her husband and it was definitely a good day when I met her! We have become good friends. We speak on the phone and I visit her or take her out if I can, or collect prescriptions for her. She is so thankful for me to be able to help her as she lives in an area where public transport is very limited. I get on well with her husband too and all three of us always have a good laugh!
When I came to RCSS as a carer they helped me tremendously and I think my continued involvement with the organisation has also helped. I am so glad to hear that carers can get a year’s continued support from RCSS after losing the person they care for.
If you are a carer I would definitely recommend registering with RCSS. The support is amazing and you are no longer alone. They really understand the issues you are dealing with.”
RCSS would like to take this opportunity to thank Jean for sharing her story and for her continuing support in volunteering with us.
If you are inspired by volunteering and would like to get involved, please contact Cathy O'Keeffe on 020 8514 6251 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you.