I’ve always been an empathetic person and someone who has enjoyed helping others. This is why the career pathway I chose as a young adult had to be social work, and in particular with children. During my working career I've experienced working with families, young people with various needs as well as a number of years as a hospital social worker.
Becoming pregnant in my late twenties was a blessing, but not without a few hurdles. Following complications in the last part of my pregnancy Katrina was born prematurely at 33 weeks. This was my first experience being in hospital as a carer, but it was quite uneventful as Katrina returned home after 4 weeks. Balancing full time work with being a mum was a challenge, but I was determined to continue doing a job I enjoyed and found fulfilling.
After 9 years Katrina’s brother Kaylan joined us, and this coincided with Katrina’s diagnosis of Lupus. His birth was a nice distraction at a time when life became the most challenging. Katrina’s diagnosis in 2008 began a period of frequent hospital stays to try and stabilise her condition, and then a referral to GOSH when the local hospital struggled with her care.
it became a challenge to work full time even with the support of my sister who became a secondary carer. I didn’t always feel supported by my employers, and had to take a lot of unpaid leave and eventually reduced my working hours to manage my caring responsibilities and my own mental and physical health. Although there are laws protecting parents in this situation, if your absence impacts how the business functions then an employers flexibility around these entitlements can change. I found that the legislation doesn’t always work in practice.
When an opportunity arose to change direction, I took a break from work and focused on being a full time mum and carer. This brought me a lot of pleasure and a lot less guilt trying to maintain a balance between work and caring. But it also meant a big drop in income and greater outgoings and responsibilities. Carer’s are often advised not to give up work so as not to lose who you are within your caring role, for me the break from being an employee allowed me the opportunity to improve our quality of life as a family.
However the past 10 years have brought many opportunities to grow and develop my skills and interest as well as my passions. I worked and managed a charity which has given me more flexibility with my time. I am also a school governor with particular interest in special educational needs, as well as taking other volunteer roles within the community and Local authority where I live. Katrina created the Katty’s Territory website in the hope of sharing her experience and raising awareness of the importance of embracing your ‘normal’. Together in creating Katty’s Territory Empower & Support CIC, we are sharing our lived experiences and creating a business resource to benefit young people and carers.