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"I wanted to give something back to the community that supported me when I needed it"

02 June 2014

Sue has volunteered for Carers UK for four years, firstly as a media volunteer and then as a forum moderator. She views volunteering as her way of giving something back to the community that gave her support when she needed it most. 


I found out about Carers UK when my mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007. I was at my lowest point when I joined, but was welcomed into a community of people who had been there, done that and got the t-shirt to prove it.

Being part of the online forum meant I didn’t feel alone anymore. I was so relieved to find other people who felt the same way I did – disheartened, lonely, resentful and guilty.

My first experience of volunteering was as a media case study. I thought that if sharing my experiences of caring for my mum would help one other person in a similar situation then it would be worth the effort. I did a number of interviews with newspapers and magazines before featuring in a video along with my mum. It was used on the Carers UK website and I still have a link to it saved in my favourites list!

As my caring role changed I felt able to commit more long-term to the forum. I was asked a few times if I would like to join the moderating team, but didn’t feel able to because I was so busy caring for mum. When mum moved into a care home in September 2011 I decided I had the time to volunteer.

For me, my role is about giving something back to a community that has supported me when I needed it. I’ve received invaluable advice from other carers over the years, and have gone on to make some good friends in the process. I try to pass on some of the good advice I’ve been given and point people in the right direction for help and support, especially in my own area of expertise – Alzheimer’s.

One second I’m deleting spam, the next I’m replying to someone who has posted their first message asking for support. I hope I’m able to reassure those carers who feel the way I did that those feelings are ‘normal’.

Moderating is all about team work. Each moderator brings their own caring experiences and skills into the mix, but the key thing is how we work together as a team to make sure the forum is a welcoming, supportive and understanding place for carers. It can be very challenging, and we are in touch with each other daily to discuss any issues that crop up.

I’m certainly not an IT expert, but I have found myself becoming the IT ‘guru’ on the forum. I hope that the advice and tips I have been able to give people have allowed them to keep using the forum and not to give up, even when IT gremlins have made things difficult!

Being a moderator means I’m often there for people at the times when no-one else is. We make time on days like Christmas Day to make sure we’ve here for people who are struggling, to point them in the right direction of help or simply to be there to listen.

The Carers UK forum is our online community for carers where you can share what's on your mind, day and night. It is available 24/7 and free to all Carers UK members. To access the forum join Carers UK.


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