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Events to Recognise Voluntary Carers in Derry and Raphoe

Revd Malcolm Ferry and Mrs Carol Ferry.
Revd Malcolm Ferry and Mrs Carol Ferry.

As a new initiative to recognise the work of voluntary carers who care for loved ones at home, the Derry and Raphoe Board of Social Responsibility will be running two special evening events next spring. The events will be organised to accommodate both Derry and Raphoe.

Each evening will include an act of worship and hospitality giving time and space for those who attend an opportunity to swap stories, share experiences and support one another. The format will be flexible and designed to be as helpful and supportive as possible. It will also be an opportunity for parishes to support their carers who attend by volunteering practical support where possible and appropriate.

Board member Revd Malcolm Ferry (rector of St Augustine’s Church in Londonderry) relates to this first hand. Malcolm’s wife, Carol, was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 38 when their three children were still at primary school.

Drawing on their experience of daily living with a progressive illness, which can be debilitating at times, they want other families to know that they are not alone and to encourage them to be positive and share the many blessings life can bring.

“Sometimes we see the wheelchair and the person in it but we don’t see the person pushing it,” Mr Ferry explains. “There are also a lot of ‘hidden disabilities’ such as mental illness or dyslexia and therefore ‘hidden carers’ are commonplace in our churches. In the current climate, where more and more resources are being taken away from carers and respite care is less and less available, we are seeking to support voluntary carers in a small way.”

The initiative is also a call for churches to increase their understanding of the wide range of disabilities across society and to support those loved ones who care 365 days of the year. The Church of Ireland designates the third Sunday in November as ‘Disability Awareness Sunday’. Some useful resources are available at www.ireland.anglican.org/news/category/19

This new initiative is an extension of this work and it is hoped that others may learn from this approach in Derry and Raphoe.

This article was first published in the Church of Ireland Gazette.


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