My mother's experience of being a carer profoundly affected me and prompted me to look at how we can support carers better. In the early 1990s there was very little help available to them, so I moved from being a stay-at-home mum to becoming involved in a three-year project with North Yorkshire Health Authority helping front-line professionals to be more carer-aware.
I set up the Carers' Resource as an independent charity in 1995; we now have more than 90 paid staff and about 200 volunteers across three offices in Yorkshire. Twenty years ago I didn't envisage the cultural change towards carer awareness or that we would have helped about 30,000 carers.
Behind the scenes we run a lean business on a tight budget thanks to the support of wonderful trustees. They enable us to listen to our carers and meet their needs quickly. I love the flexibility of the third sector to get close to the real need and act swiftly.
Being deputy chair of the Standing Commission on Carers has enabled me to articulate the views of carers while keeping up with new legislation and what's happening at a national level. It's important to stay close to the client, value staff and volunteers and have close relationships with trustees and commissioners.
My colleagues at the charity have been my second family and it's hard to step back, but I hope to stay involved in the sector. It's been a seven-day-a-week job and my home has suffered, so now it's time to tidy a few cupboards.
The Carers' Resource is the local, specialist carers centre for the Bradford and Airedale, Harrogate and Ripon and Craven districts of Yorkshire