Hi my name is Sharon.
I’m currently working part-time in a charity shop, employed three days and in receipt of a social welfare subsidy for the other days. I am also studying a postgrad diploma part-time in Sustainable Development.
Having completed a Bachelor of Business and an honours degree in Information Systems Management in 2013, I was hopeful that I could find employment.
After completing the course, I decided however, that I did not want to work with technology on a continuous basis, as I found that the final specialised year was soulless.
During college I had done some volunteering, and so, knew that I had a leaning towards working in business for a social cause.
The other constraint I had over the years, was an accumulation of a few gaps in my C.V because of past mental health issues. I had started suffering from anxiety in my teens which really affected my self-esteem. This condition really impacted my development. So, by the time my friends were going to college at 18, I stayed at home and was happy to take care of my grandmother who needed support. I was on and off medication for a long time.
I tried lots of things, individual counselling and group therapy, which really did help me. Success really came for me through trying alternative therapies such as bio energy, acupuncture and reiki.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that places huge stigma around mental health issues so in terms of employment, people are encouraged to cover up any such issues. The C.V gaps gave me less of a competitive edge in the job market and I was 8 months unemployed after college. The emphasis placed on having experience to get jobs can be an obstacle. Even though I had experience volunteering throughout my time at college, I found that companies don’t recognise volunteer work, because you haven’t been paid for it.
I decided to return to volunteering again, for a wonderful NGO where after 3 months a shop management position presented itself. That was like winning the lotto for me, I can tell you!
I don’t like the money grabbing, I need there to be a social dimension and something more sustainable. Unfortunately,only 8 months in, this wonderful NGO working to support development overseas had to close their Irish operations, to make the charity more sustainable. I went on to get my current job as a charity shop assistant, again after an 8-month search. I love working in this environment, as you get to meet real heroes with real struggles and tales of survival.
In 2015, my Mum got cancer. My beautiful Mum has always been a brave and determined warrior. My folks have undergone a lot of problems with housing during the economic downturn in Ireland. They moved in with one of my uncles who is a diagnosed schizophrenic to take care of him. They each have always played the role of carers in both of their large families, often taking on huge burdens of care for their siblings, very selflessly and very much to their own disadvantage. The thanks they end up getting for their efforts, is having to look for a new home while Mum was in the early stages of cancer, due to one uncle behaving very aggressively and selfishly toward them.Mum did not need to be further subjected to that kind of stressful behaviour.
Thankfully, after a short search period, my folks ended up moving into a house in my neighbourhood.This was hugely beneficial to me, as I was then positioned to be of help to them, where I could, in supporting Mum on her journey to recovery.
The past few years have really been a very harsh eye opener for me, into the affects an economic crisis has on people’s lives. It has detrimental impacts on people’s health, welfare, living conditions and psyches.
The other side of the coin is, that I have fortunately come to discover, the absolute profound healing and joy that comes from people around us, the hearts and minds of people who genuinely care.
That sense of community and connection is the most important aspect to life and has certainly helped me and my family to cope through the last few years.
There is a dire need for an extension of this supportive community, in tackling the many varied and complex social issues of our time.
The most recent suicide and cancer statistics, highlight the absolute urgency, in finding alternative ways, of connecting and supporting the people who are struggling within our communities.
Thanks to all involved in Edgeryders for all your hard effort in attempting to achieve that!
I hope this community will be very successful in its reach.
Love and best wishes to you all! X