As the weather starts to change to feel more like autumn, this year the end of August marks a special anniversary for myself and Dunfermline Advocacy. My journey with Dunfermline Advocacy began on the 31st of August 1999 when I took up a post of Citizen Advocacy Development Worker, before becoming the lead officer in March 2001.
When I spoke at our 25th Anniversary event in 2017 I recalled how it’s still a very clear memory on my first day walking through the door of the old DA office on a Tuesday morning at the end of August. However what’s even clearer is how I felt in those first few weeks and months at DA- the sense of ‘coming home’ that this was where I was meant to be and how happy I was to be working for an organisation (which of course is all about the people) that shared the same values as mine. This solid base provided the foundations required when taking on challenging roles of recruiting Citizen Advocates and supporting people in very situations.
Comments shared with me this week:
“Hasn’t anyone said when are you going to get a real job?” This did make me laugh- it’s definitely what some people think about working for a charity in the voluntary sector.
“You guys must have seen so much together” from a newer team member upon realising how long some of us have been colleagues here at DA.
We certainly have!
20 years ago we had a small office with a toilet ceiling that would fall in due to damp, no mobile phones, certainly no website or even email addresses! We have witnessed changes in the world at large, in services for vulnerable people and in the ways we work here at DA. At the same time we have supported each other as a Team through many good and bad times personally just as we have with the people we support every week.
A lovely message in my birthday card this week- “Thanks for keeping DA afloat”
So, what motivates me to keep going in the voluntary sector, and at Dunfermline Advocacy? Not always easy with many of the issues and pressures just the same, or worse than they were two decades ago, not least constant funding and resource issues?
There are probably several answers to this, but mostly its two things- shared values which I’ve already touched on, and perhaps most importantly, it’s the people.
A few months ago I was reminded of the power of simply connecting people, and the ongoing impact of work I did back in those early days continues still.
I matched Nan and Barbara in the Spring of 2001. When Nan celebrated her 80th Birthday earlier this year, Barbara received some lovely feedback about her 18 year commitment as Citizen Advocate, and friend to Nan… “you’ve been the only constant person in Nan’s life… the day Nan met you, she hit the jackpot!”
Friendship Changing Lives indeed! I couldn’t be prouder.