This week we speak to Carolyn Tailford for our #memberinfocus feature: “The Challenges and Opportunities of 2020”.
Q1. If you could describe the year 2020 in one word, what would it be?
Q2. What was happening in your life when the pandemic struck?
When the pandemic struck the hub had really started to take off. We had groups running most days and a bustling youth club running every night of the week. We had managed to decrease antisocial behaviour in Crumlin by 100% (according to the PSNI) and were about to launch some of our new professional training courses for counsellors. We were also waiting to hear if we had managed to secure a lottery grant which we had been working on for the past 12 months which would help secure our future in the Crumlin premises.
On a personal level, I was very much still grieving for my mum who had died suddenly in November and had just managed to get my brother relocated closer to me who had just been diagnosed as seriously ill.
Q3. Why and when did you decide to get involved with community-based support?
Long story short, 4 & a half years ago I moved to Crumlin. My 2 youngest children were 3 and 11, one was going into 1st year and the other going into pre-school. I very quickly became aware that I had moved my family into a town with absolutely no service provision and very little in the way of community groups etc. Instead of complaining about it I decided to do something about it.
I’m a qualified psychotherapist and already had a well established private practice in Antrim where I had moved from. A long with one of my best friends, we decided to set up a mental health charity. To this day i will never forget a conversation we had with a council employee and a local councillor when we met with them to discuss our plans to set up the group in Crumlin. “I wouldn’t bother, no group has ever latest more than 6 months”. I love a challenge. And here we are, 4 years later. With a well established community facility that is used from morning til night.
Don’t get me wrong it has been tough, some days i have thought, no i’m not doing this anymore but when i think of the people we support and the community that we have brought together, that’s what keeps me going!
Q4. What is the biggest challenge you have faced since the world went into lockdown?
Keeping myself and my family safe whilst working throughout lockdown. I had 2 choices as we went into lockdown. Stay home and go stir crazy in the house or do what I do best in a crisis. Work. As someone with a very rare and serious autoimmune disease, I probably should have been at home (especially having had 2 shielding letters) but I was always going to choose the work option. Because it’s not really work. The hub team is my family and we all bubbled together for several months to keep each other safe and allow us to coordinate the community response to COVID for Crumlin and outlaying areas. We put in thousands of voluntary hours between us to allow us to serve, provide and protect the community we love.
Q5. Are you excited about any opportunities that have arisen this year?
Absolutely, that’s why my word for 2020 is paradoxical. So many bad things happened but also so many good things have happened for us. We secured our lottery grant, opened our nurture cafe, took on 3 paid staff (which we never had until now), had huge renovations done to our hub, and are just about to sign contracts for our new Antrim hub, this is just to name a few!
Q6. How are things looking for the remainder of 2020?
Again paradoxical – we are looking forward to getting the Antrim hub ready and opened, we have just established our detached youth team across Antrim & Newtownabbey and so many other things in the pipeline but at the same time my younger brother is just about to have life changing surgery in a couple of days times. For every good thing the universe delivers it equally delivers something very challenging!