It seems a long time ago that I was writing my last blog on here, welcoming in the summer, which we are now sadly saying goodbye to. Having said that, the leaves will soon be falling from the trees, and we will be surrounded by a beautiful pallet of autumnal colours, which I love, so long as I’m viewing them while wrapped up in a big coat and scarf!
Although I work on the helpline, I wanted to take the opportunity this month to sing the praises of our Volunteer Network team, our volunteers and our NRAS groups. A couple of weeks ago, I finally had the opportunity to attend my very first launch meeting of one of our NRAS groups. Working on the helpline, it is not always easy for me to get out and about, and though I speak to many people on the telephone, it is always nice to get out and speak to people face-to-face.
I have to admit, I had an ulterior motive for choosing Chertsey to visit, as the launch meeting was held at St Peter’s Hospital, where I was born, worked in the medical records department for a year and spent most of my life living round the corner from. It was lovely to be back in Surrey, and I even met up with an old acquaintance at the group. Parts of the hospital were unrecognisable from when I was last there, yet other parts were exactly as I remembered them.
It was lovely to see such a nice group of people meeting up with each other, offering their various skills to the group, sharing stories and making decisions on what they want from these meetings, and it was really nice that their rheumatologist and an ex-rheumatology nurse at the hospital gave up some of their evening to speak to the group at this first meeting. It also struck me how much effort goes into these meetings behind the scenes.
Our Volunteer Network Manager, Clare Jacklin does an amazing job, and regularly gives up her evenings to travel across the country setting these groups up, giving them ideas from her experience of other groups and helping to make sure that the launch meeting runs smoothly. We do not always know in advance exactly what a venue will look like, how easy it is to find, and what facilities will be there until we get there, which is why Clare ensures that she gets there early, has help where possible, and brings plenty of signs to put up in the surrounding area. I had a stepometre on me at Chertsey, where I was in charge of the putting up and taking down of these signs, and I did around 6,000 steps while I was there, so I know how long that can take!
Clare, Volunteer Network Manager presenting
I had a lovely time in Chertsey, and I wish them, and all our other NRAS groups great success for the future. It cannot be underestimated how much good it can do to be able to speak to other people who understand a little about what you are going through!
Wishing you a happy autumn.
Helpline & Information Coordinator