“Volunteering has had a huge impact on my life”

03 June 2020
Marie Mitchell a volunteer from Northern Ireland being recognised for her contributions.

Marie Mitchell, 72, from Ballymoney, Northern Ireland has osteoarthritis and has been a volunteer for Versus Arthritis for more than 30 years. Here she shares her story.

“I’m a training volunteer for Versus Arthritis and I’ve been involved with the organisation for over 33 years.”

I’ve done nearly everything – delivering training courses, running a branch, fundraising and even sitting on the board of trustees. I’m also a training assessor.

I originally became involved with Arthritis Care in February 1986, joining my local branch on the North Antrim coast. I didn’t have arthritis at the time, but my mother did, so I was interested in getting all the information for her.

As her arthritis progressed and I watched her in a lot of pain, I got more heavily involved.

“I developed osteoarthritis at the bottom of my spine, hip and neck.”

It was getting difficult to travel to meetings in London, so I gave it up and got involved in self-management training – which I really love.

I then became involved in the Stay Connected project – a one-to-one programme for people in Northern Ireland to help them cope with loneliness, isolation and pain.

“We took the self-management skills to the people who needed it and couldn’t get out.”

Every day is different for me. If I’m taking courses, there’s the preparation beforehand, the travelling and delivering the course. I travel all over Northern Ireland, but it’s so enjoyable.

Being awarded the British Geriatric Society Special Medal 2019 was the icing on the cake. I was humbled, speechless – it came totally out of the blue.

“Volunteering has had a huge impact on my life.”

I believe I’ve got as much out of it as I’ve given to other people. Arthritis and restricted mobility can lead to isolation, but when you’re involved with Versus Arthritis, you never feel like that.

I would strongly recommend anyone who has a few hours spare a week to volunteer because it is the greatest thing for your emotional and mental wellbeing. And you’re helping the people in the community who are most in need of help.

It’s taught me to face up to all the challenges that have come to me in life. If I were 30 years younger, I would carry on for another 30 years.

This article is from our Summer edition of Inspire magazine. Read it in full here.

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Versus Arthritis provides support and services for people with arthritis in the UK. We provide support, understanding, information and expertise so people feel they can cope with the impact of the condition and get the most out of life.

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