Christine Thompson is grateful for the help she received. The 4SX ‘Essex Carers – The Way to Work’ Building Better Opportunities programme which is jointly funded by European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund has helped her make new friends, gain employment, generate an income, keep her mind active and help her cope with caring for her mother who has Alzheimer’s.
Her participation came at a time in her life when the dedicated mother, wife and unpaid carer was looking for something to help her fulfil her passion for teaching.
But first, rewind a few years to when Christine and her husband - then living in Canada and bringing up their two small children - got a call to tell her that her father in Essex was seriously ill.
Christine had crossed the Atlantic on many occasions to spend time with her mother and father at their home near Chelmsford, and always thought of her parents as having good health.
But when her father was the subject of a 2011 cancer diagnosis, she came back to the UK to care for him as he faced the terminal cancer which sadly ended his life in January 2012.
With her mother showing early signs of Alzheimer’s, Christine decided to stay in the UK and the high achieving couple made the huge decision to move her children over – with Christine’s husband (an IT expert) working in Vancouver.
The caring role proved to be more difficult than Christine had expected. Caring for her mother involved liaising with health professionals, daily home visits – cooking and cleaning and helping with mobility issues – and much more. The pressure of caring, while juggling children and being responsible for two homes began to take its toll.
Christine said: “I began to feel quite isolated.
“I have always been an organiser, but I missed adult company and knew that some form of part time work would do me good.
“I needed some adult company and to feel that my brain and skills were being tested.”
Christine, who had volunteered in schools, had made contact with Action for Family Carers and was alerted by them to the 4SX project.
She engaged with Paul one of our dedicated Key Workers who arranged for the project to contribute £600.00 towards the cost of her Level 2 Montessori course.
Christine undertook months of tough coursework which involved hundreds of pages of lesson plans and explaining the theory behind the innovative teaching system. And finally, there were practical and written examinations.
After the months of effort and late nights revising Christine said: “I was so glad that I took the course and became qualified.
“It was a lot of work, but it has given me another string to my bow and something else to focus on, other than just looking after my mum.
“I was hoping that I would get over 70% in my final examination but in June I achieved 82%. There were many times when I had been revising and doing coursework until 2am – after looking after the children and caring for my mum – but it was all worth it and will help me going forward.”
Christine is already in demand and her dedication to the Montessori system has been noted by those involved in teaching in the county. She has already been offered work using her Montessori qualifications and she believes that the help the BBO 4SX Programme gave her was key. It’s another success story for 4SX.
When will your journey of self-discovery begin? It’s as simple as calling 01268 923912, or searching out www.essexcarers.co.uk