Fiona Gardner, Volunteer Counsellor, Sutton Carers Centre Charity
“The majority of my career, which started 35 years ago, has been within palliative nursing, both in hospital and hospice settings. I have loved being part of an institution that both demands and provides high standards of care.
“As it’s National Carers Week, I have been reflecting upon my other role. I re-trained ten years ago, and joined Sutton Carers Centre as a Volunteer Counsellor, providing emotional support to people who help look after family members or friends who have a physical disability, mental health condition or perhaps experience substance misuse issues. Not unlike nursing, working with Carers gives me great job satisfaction. I particularly value being part of a charity that promotes and advocates for good mental health and wellbeing for all.
“Carers do this work unpaid, as partners alongside the NHS. Without Carers, the whole health and social care system would collapse. We must recognise and respect the contributions Carers make. They must not be forgotten.
“Caring can be rewarding, and is usually done out of love, but many care through duty or obligation. And many Carers, adults and children, struggle. Indeed, many of my colleagues were unpaid Carers at home whilst working for the NHS.
“And this was me. Throughout my career, I provided care for my own family members, as well as being a patient, having experienced life threatening episodes myself. I will be forever indebted to my NHS colleagues for their skills, care and compassion. I also want to thank my own family Carers, my children, who have given so much.”