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"I was so relieved to have someone listen"

When Alison was desperately searching for information to help organise her mum’s care, it was the compassion of a Carers UK volunteer that made all the difference.

MumandMeMy mum had faced many challenges in her life: breast cancer, bowel cancer, diabetes, two strokes, the loss of my dad and many more illnesses. When the diagnosis came that confirmed her vascular dementia, I made the decision instantly that she would move in with me so I could be there for her every step of the way.

Seeing mum losing her independence and struggling to complete even the simplest of tasks was so difficult. The once confident and capable mum who loved socialising was slowly slipping away from me like a photograph fading from colour to black and white.

"I was getting nowhere fast and becoming exasperated"

In January of this year mum was admitted to hospital. Her care package was increased and we agreed to arrange overnight care at home to give me some rest. I spent days searching and ringing agencies across the North West, but I was getting nowhere fast and becoming exasperated.

I really was at the end of my tether with no one to support or help me. That was when I called the Carers UK Adviceline and spoke to a Listening Support Volunteer. I was so relieved to have somebody listen to me.

They also asked how I was. I had never really had anyone ask me how I was feeling and it was so reassuring to know that there was somebody at the end of the phone who cared enough to ask. That compassion made me think about how I could give back to other carers too. I wish I had contacted Carers UK sooner on the days when I felt so lonely and down.

I cared for mum for three and a half years until she passed away at home in March. After she died everything went quiet. The day after mum’s funeral, the house went from eight calls per day, from district nurses, visits from care workers and many other professionals, to being completely silent.

"I want to help signpost carers tot he support they can receive, just like the volunteer who helped me"

I felt lost and like my main purpose in life had ended so abruptly. That’s when I remembered saying to my daughter, 12 months previously: ‘When the inevitable does happen with mum, I want to volunteer for Carers UK!’ So after the dust had settled, I sent in my application form.

Now I volunteer because I want to help those carers who may not know that others are facing the same issues in their day-today lives. I want to help signpost carers to the support they can receive, just like the volunteer who helped me.

Three months on and life has changed a lot, though I still miss mum so much. I know she will be proud that I am helping other carers who are facing many of the same challenges that I faced.

  • If you want to find out more about volunteering with Carers UK, click here

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