Volunteer Caron's story

The Children's Trust Blogger

I have worked in the city as a legal PA for my whole working life since I was 17, I worked long hours alongside a long commute and absolutely loved it! But everything changed when my partner of 38 years was diagnosed with cancer, he passed away within six months of the diagnosis and left a huge hole in my life. My dad was absolutely instrumental in helping me get through the grief, we have always been close and he was my rock during that time, while he also took on the responsibility of caring for my mother. I threw myself back into work, taking on longer hours and really not giving myself any personal time at all. It wasn’t healthy at all and I decided to take a year’s sabbatical from work to refocus on myself. I had plans of all the things I wanted to do in my year off but in the first few weeks of my sabbatical my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour, he had been fighting bowel and bladder cancer for 10 years but this new diagnosis was a complete shock. I visited him in hospital every day while trying to work out how to get my mother the care she needed, navigating the complicated support systems in place and having to make a huge number of arrangements to keep her safe. I spent that time refusing to think that my dad was going to die. But after five months of bravely fighting, he lost his battle. Within the space of a few years, I had lost two of the most important people in my life. I had to do something to save myself.

Volunteering at The Children's Trust

My ethos had always been that I would give something back, I’d never known much about The Children’s Trust before but when I went on to the website and saw that little face smiling out at me, I knew it was where I wanted to help. At my first event we all had to be on-site at 6am to set up for a cycle race. After an hour of set up, we all sat together on the lawn to have breakfast, looking up at the mansion house in the morning sunshine. I’ll never forget that moment, I felt at home, part of a community. I felt amazing driving home later that day like a huge weight had been lifted, and as soon as I got home I signed up to volunteer at every single event on the website.

Several events later I got an email from Ruth, one of the community fundraising team, she asked if I was interested or able to come into the office to help out in the run-up to an event. I was chuffed to have been asked and didn’t even think twice about agreeing. I was terrified on my first morning in the office, my whole life had been consumed by looking after my parents, healthcare and worrying about the future. Could I remember how to answer the phone? How to even talk to people? Ruth made me feel so welcome and I settled in so quickly. I originally signed up to do one day on a Tuesday, but I ended up coming in Wednesday, then Thursday, and then Friday before the event on Saturday! They couldn’t keep me away! Ruth asked if I’d like to join them regularly and I was so excited by the idea! I was surprised when the CEO joined us for lunch on my first official day in the office, Ruth did say that not everyone gets to have lunch with Dalton on their first day! But it was wonderful, I felt so welcomed, there was so much kindness, understanding and I was seeing the good in everyone. Volunteering at The Children’s Trust has helped me find myself again. I still have a little way to go, the real me has been hidden away, I’ve been looking after people for so long. This is something just for me, and it’s not only boosted my confidence, but it’s also been instrumental in helping me recover mentally, emotionally and physically. I feel part of a community again and it’s had an impact on the rest of my life as well, I’ve reconnected with swimming and travelling, I’ve even bought a mountain bike! I would like to go back to work at some point, but my first thought is always how I can keep my involvement here. I’m not very good at goodbyes. Whatever I do in the future I will always work around The Children’s Trust and fit them into my life.