Catherine the great
Mum has looked after 100s of youngsters
A Cambuslang woman who has helped to care for more than 100 children over a 35-year career is retiring this month.
Catherine Alexander now wants others to step into her shoes as a respite carer for South Lanarkshire Council, having spent almost four decades helping local families.
The 65-year-old said her career had been “fulfilling and heartwarming”.
She treasures at least one piece of artwork, thank you card or memento from every young person who has passed through her Halfway home.
And she reckons many of those she has helped still feel like family.
She said: “My youngest is 29 now but has always been happy and comfortable to welcome the young people into our home.
“Even now she is still like a big sister figure to many of them.
“It has just always been a part of me to want to help those who need it, especially families and children.
“And that’s what I want people to know. It’s not about formal qualifications or experience or anything else, it’s really about having the room in your heart to help those who need you.
“Only this week I bumped into a girl I used to look after along with her sister, and who I haven’t seen for 20 years.
“She came up and gave me a hug and it was so wonderful to see her grown up and happy.
“It’s moments like these that make it so worthwhile.
“I feel proud of the small part I might have played in her story, and this is a feeling you get so often with respite care.”
Catherine, whose own background is in childcare, was a founding member of the Cambuslang and Rutherglen Befriending and Respite Group, through which she began to work more closely with social work to offer regular and emergency short term care.
The mum-of-three then went on to balance her own family life with her career as a childminder.
She became involved in the short breaks programme, working with the council’s family placement team to offer short-term respite care to children and families with additional support needs.
And now she wants others who might be considering the role to get in touch with the team.
She added: “A ‘short break’ is whatever the individual family needs it to be.
“It can be every now and again, one night a week, every other weekend. It really differs a lot.
“The idea is that it can help families who might be close to breaking point; time and space can make a huge difference to relationships where there are additional needs or other issues at play.
“Effectively, I’m like an extension of the family unit.”
Short break carers from all walks of life and backgrounds are required by the council.
Applications are welcome from single people, married couples, couples in a stable relationship, people from the LGBT community, and families with or without children.
To register interest or find out more, contact 0303 123 1008 or email email@example.com. uk.
Help out Catherine Alexander is urging others to take on a caring role