Being a volunteer supports me in my carer role

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Being a volunteer supports me in my carer role

Chas Burton has been volunteering at the Centre for about three years, regularly working in the café, making delicious lunches and serving all-important tea and cake to members of the Centre and other visitors to the building.

He is also a carer member at the Centre as his wife, Angie, who was diagnosed with MS in 1986, has been coming for many years….

I work in the café and have a regular slot on Thursday lunchtimes and I love it. I love cooking anyway so the work is a bonus for me.

I have also been involved with giving talks and presentations that could help to add to the services the Centre provides.

The opportunity to volunteer at the Centre is a great way for me to give something back. The Centre has been such an important part of my life and provides such an invaluable service to the community.

Because of Angie’s MS, we have had our problems, but the Centre has been helpful in resolving some of these issues and Angie has found the counselling to be really beneficial. She has also been supported through physio and podiatry which help with her flexibility and mobility. She has gone downhill over the last year but, given her diagnosis was nearly forty years ago, she has done remarkably well. However, it does now mean her treatment has become both an important and integral part of her life.

As a carer, I also benefit by being a member as I attend the carers meetings which not only provide me with a lot of helpful information, they also act as a forum to share with each other. It’s comforting and cathartic to have an open chat about the challenges we all face. Personally, I find my role as Angie’s carer a constant source of concern and, to be honest, I sometimes I don’t deal with it very well!

I often feel resentment towards our lifestyle (aimed at MS), which is not good. When I come to the Centre each Thursday to work in the kitchen, I get kind support and understanding from the people I work with. It is a real comfort and I feel that others understand and appreciate the worry a carer constantly has to deal with. Not just me.

Meeting members with MS is often humbling, and helps me put my issues into perspective which is a genuine comfort.

I sometimes feel that I’m not very good at being a carer, but the observations I get from others, and the situations I see them in, make me appreciate that I’m not that different from many other people in my predicament.

Consequently, I love coming in to volunteer! It’s one place where I’m generally very cheerful. Maybe it’s because I’m in respite from my responsibilities at home, for a while at least.

I have a wonderful rapport with many of the members and I have a great laugh with them. I’m in awe of their incredible and enviable ability to carry on, despite their condition.

I enjoy a sense of doing something worthwhile by giving something that others will benefit from and enjoy having a good time while they are at the Centre. I feel humbled by them.

It’s a very rewarding thing to do. It gives me a positive purpose to my week.

If you are a carer of someone with MS, Parkinson’s or a stroke survivor then please get in touch to see how we can support you both. Just email info@chilternsneurocentre.org

If you feel inspired by Chas and would like to find out more about the volunteering opportunities we have at the Centre then check out our volunteering page.