International Women’s Day at Rosie’s Trust: Catherine Kelly

International Women’s Day at Rosie’s Trust: Catherine Kelly

This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating our amazing and selfless female volunteers. They work so hard each and every day and dedicate themselves to helping keep people and pets together throughout Northern Ireland. Everything they do, they do with strength, love, and compassion.

The theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge — we raise our hands up high and choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

We spoke to our inspiring volunteer Catherine Kelly, about her volunteer work with Rosie’s Trust, her career as a Physiotherapist, and about what International Women’s Day means to her…

When did you begin volunteering with Rosie’s Trust, and why did you start?

5 years ago now — like the start of any great New Year’s intentions and plans, I thought I would like to become involved in some charity work and came across Rosie’s Trust which looked like a great charity to become involved in.

What does volunteering mean to you and can you describe what value it adds to your life? Would you encourage other women to volunteer?

Volunteering has actually come to mean more to me as time has gone on. It started out as a great way to get out and enjoy a walk with a furry companion, but over time I have met lots of great people, their pets, and have developed a great relationship with the beneficiary I currently work with and her dog. I can see the difference it makes to her and how it enables them to remain together to keep that close bond they have.

“I think for a lot of people particularly those that may live on their own, their relationship with their pet is a lifeline — they depend on each other. To be able to assist to maintain that in any way is a privilege.”

I would encourage anyone to become involved in the charity, I feel I have gained lots of experiences and great friendships throughout my time with Rosie’s Trust.

Tell us a bit more about your career as a Physiotherapist. How have you managed to balance your busy working life alongside volunteering?

I have been qualified for over ten years as a Physiotherapist now, and have spent much of that time working in the NHS. I am lucky in that I love my job and cannot imagine working at anything else. Like all jobs, it has its challenges, especially in the last year. Getting out for a walk after a busy day at work definitely is a great way to wind down and clear the head, so for me, it is really important to take that break and time away to get the right work-life balance. If anything, volunteering with Rosie’s Trust benefits me as much as it does the beneficiary and their pet.

What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?

I am fortunate that in my profession, I feel there has always been a good balance on gender equality in my workplace. I have been fortunate enough to work with some fantastic women within management and who have led the teams I have been involved with. I think I have seen progress on gender equality in many settings, but one that stands out to me as a Physiotherapist is sport and physical activity. I think the scene of physical activity is changing — more women from all walks of life are becoming more involved in activities such as strength and conditioning, Crossfit and Couch to 5K programmes, which is so important for health and mental wellbeing. There have been some great campaigns such as x2020.ie — “If she can’t see it, she can’t be it”, championing girls and women in sport. There is still a long way to go regarding equal pay, equal media coverage and equal treatment, especially in many amateur sports, but I am hoping we are on the right track and I am excited about the future.

How has the pandemic impacted you and your desire to volunteer?

I have been lucky enough that my work has continued throughout the pandemic, so although there have been significant changes in wearing PPE and how we operate our services etc, it allowed me to keep some form of routine. In the initial period when everything came to a standstill, I really missed the volunteer work. All volunteers were encouraged to keep in touch with the beneficiary via phone, which highlighted the importance of our contact with them and the social interaction. It was a scary time for everyone back in March 2020, so I think keeping that contact was good for us all. I was really delighted when we were able to start back up again with new measures in place to maintain the safety of everyone involved. It has highlighted the importance and benefits of the service the charity can offer.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s day for me is about celebrating the achievements of women from all walks of life whether big or small. I think about all the amazing women in my life personally and professionally and how it has influenced me to become the person I am. I think it is also an opportunity to reflect on the inequalities that still exist for many women and to be conscious of how we can all play a part to strive for change and equality for every woman everywhere.

Thank you Catherine for volunteering with us, and for choosing every day to help us to protect the special bond between people and their pets.

To read more of our story, go to www.rosiestrust.org

#IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge #RosiesTrust