Maureen is a mentor and fundraiser for the House of St Barnabas. She has been a part of our community for the past four years, and has volunteered as a mentor in our Employment Academy for the past two. During the pandemic, Maureen set herself the challenge of walking the famous Camino de Santiago – virtually, from right here in London! She will be raising money to support the House, enabling us to continue our mission of breaking the cycle of homelessness by providing stable pathways back into good work.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do? How do you work with the House?
I’m retired from the NHS where I worked for over 30 years, mostly in cancer care. My clinical background is in Dietetics, but I moved into Cancer Rehabilitation later on in my career. I still do some consultancy work from time to time and I am a partner with my sister (a systems engineer) in ‘Dowling & Drew’, a consultancy.
Originally from Liverpool, I live in north London with my husband and dog. My hobbies include: playing percussion and ukulele, and my 1957 Morris Traveller!
I found out about the House of St Barnabas quite by accident when my sister was researching member’s clubs in London. I visited it and loved it and have been a member for about 4 years. I started volunteering on the Employment Academy mentoring scheme about 2 years ago. I’ve been with my Mentee for over a year now and it as been a great experience. The House gives so much support and encouragement.
Can you tell us about an experience at the House which captures what you think we’re all about?
I would choose the Academy Graduation ceremony. It is such a wonderful way to celebrate the achievements of the participants, mentors, and supporters. It truly shows where the money raised by the club and its’ members goes – and proves the mission, values, and ethos of the House.
The last 12-months have been a challenging time for us all. How have you adapted over the last year?
I have been in a privileged position as I haven’t had to work or travel if I didn’t want to, and I have a nice garden to sit in! Quizzing and meeting my family and friends on Zoom has been a great way of staying and feeling connected. It’s been good to meet outside when we can. I’ve set myself goals – little and often, and kept up with my hobbies. And, of course, I’m enjoying walking and my virtual Camino de Santiago!
What changes from 2020 do you think, or hope, will stick?
I’m hoping that the community spirit and sense of working together for all will stick. I hope the understanding that we need to appreciate the contribution that key workers make will stick. This pandemic has opened up cracks in society that we may have not fully acknowledged, such as: poverty, social depravation and inequality. I hope we can now acknowledge and work together to help resolve these things.
What’s there to be excited about in 2021?
Visiting (and hugging) family and friends! Eating out. Going to the Theatre and the House of St Barnabas of course!
What inspired you to go on the walk?
I’ve always wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago but that’s a bit unlikely now – not just because of COVID-19, but also that I’m not fit enough!!! Even the last 100 miles or so, which is what most people do, would be too arduous for me… let alone the full 480 miles! Doing it virtually seemed a great project during the Covid lockdown. I’ve set up the Facebook page to promote the walk, record my journey and raise money for the House.
You are doing the walk virtually due to Covid-19 – which places on the Camino De Santiago would want to visit the most if you were there?
I’m so glad I’m doing the whole 480 miles virtually as I have come across, and will come across, some amazing places that I so want to visit in reality. The virtual highlights to date (apart from the glorious countryside) have been:
- Puente La Reina
- The Irache Winery, Bodegas Irache
- The many beautiful and historic churches, convents and monasteries that have enabled and supported the pilgrims over the years…and there is more to come!!
Additionally, I’ve discovered there is a driving route, so I think a real life road trip is on the cards sometime in the near future…possibly even in Ada, my 1957 Morris Traveller!!
Who else in our community would you like to have an audience with? Let us know!