‘Volunteering? I’d much rather be doing this than going on cruises!’ says Crossroads Care Trustee Margaret Dangoor who has dedicated her life to the needs of carers. Fiona Mitchell spoke to her to mark the Big Help Out – a community volunteering initiative being held during the King’s Coronation weekend

A former NHS nurse and senior manager for more than 30 years, Margaret has personal experience of caring, looking after her husband when he developed Alzheimer’s Disease, and earlier her mother with the same disease.

Since becoming a carer, Margaret has worked towards improving carers’ lives. Highly commended in the Trustee of the Year category of Richmond Council’s 2021 Community Heroes Awards for her work supporting Crossroads Care, Margaret is also a Trustee for other charities, both nationally and locally.

Tell us about your work at Crossroads’ Caring Café which supports people with dementia and their carers?

I volunteer at our Caring Café where people with dementia and their carers meet in a supported environment.  I steer a carers’ support group there where we share knowledge gained from lived experience. When I was a carer, the cafe made such a difference to my quality of life. To be able to get together in a specialist environment was so beneficial. When you’re looking after somebody with dementia, it isn’t easy to find an activity which meets the needs of you both, whilst also providing advice and information.

Why do you enjoy volunteering so much?

I want to make a difference to people’s lives, to give back. People that work for Crossroads really care. There is such an enduring commitment to the organisation and those carers we endeavour to support. Although I’m a Trustee and volunteer, I feel ‘looked after’ myself. That’s special.

You’ve done so much for carers already, don’t you feel like just relaxing in your retirement?

As a past carer, I understand what it entails to be a carer. I’ll be volunteering for as long as I can! It’s an activity I am passionate about. I like being active and feeling connected to people and the community.

What would you say to someone who wanted to volunteer?

Everyone has something to offer — different knowledge, experience, abilities. You need empathy and a willingness to be flexible. If you want to volunteer, there’s always a place.

For more information about volunteering for Crossroads, email us.