21 October 2015
Your Youngcare Volunteer Coordinator – Liz Cattermole
“Aged care is no place for a young person and I know this because I have first-hand experience of it.”
As volunteer coordinator at Youngcare I have the unique position of encouraging people from all walks of life to contribute or give back. It’s not always an easy gig but it’s a satisfying one. As someone with a disability myself I know how important independence is to a person’s state of mind. When you can do things for yourself your self-esteem improves and you become a productive member of society.
I was born with a genetic disease called SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). This rare disease affects the motor neurons that control muscles. Because of a missing protein the muscles don’t receive stimulus and degenerate. So it’s a slow wasting disease in effect. I am still able to look after myself however. When you get to the stage where you can’t then places like Youngcare become so important.
I was a supporter of Youngcare long before I even knew about the charity. Aged care is no place for a young person and I know this because I have firsthand experience of it. At age 30 I broke my ankle and due to my SMA I was unable to care for myself in my own home so I was sent to an aged care facility. It was a horrendous experience. There was no freedom or flexibility, it was their way …. or nothing. You ate when you were told, you showered when you were allowed, and there were no locks on the toilet door. You were required to eat in the main dining room crammed with people 50 years older than yourself and there was absolutely no ordering pizza. My independent life that I had clung to so strongly was taken away in an instant. Thankfully I was only there for three months.
I have a lot of loves – books, music, movies (put me on your trivia team), video editing, a good flat white, being near the sea and travelling. Things I’m most proud of; learning to drive (might seem odd but driving is enabling), doing a parachute jump, and hand control rally driving in Wales.
Youngcare volunteers are a big hearted, hardworking, generous crew and they make my job so easy. I love the job of coordinating volunteers and am always excited to receive feedback or a new recruit. There are lots of reasons for volunteering. It’s a great way to gain confidence and engage with a diverse group of people. Volunteering makes us all more tolerant of each other as we learn we are all different, and that different isn’t bad.
“A society’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members”, famously said by Mahatma Ghandi. This quite simply means all of us are uplifted when all are lifted up.