Cather­ine the great

Mum has looked af­ter 100s of young­sters

Rutherglen Reformer - - Caring - Dou­glas Dickie

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 fam­i­ly­place­ment@south­la­nark­shire.gov. uk.

Help out Cather­ine Alexan­der is urg­ing oth­ers to take on a car­ing role

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