Johanna's Story My name is Johanna Carey, aged 39, I am a mother of three, to two girls and one boy and I am married to Ger. I am also a carer to my son Conor who was diagnosed with ASD when he was 7 years old, which brought a new change to our lives. Before having kids, I worked in shops and factories. When I was expecting my third child, who is now 11 years old, I decided to stay home with my kids. I was working in Dell at the time but due to childcare expenses, I felt I would be better off at home. I also train underage kids in camogie, for the last 7 years, with my local club Granagh/Ballingarry and have completed a number of coaching badges. I really enjoy this and it gives me a great sense of pride in myself and in the team. I have been out of employment for the last 12 years, but early this year it was in my mind that I would love to return to employment. I was browsing courses one night, on the internet, when I came across Healthcare Opportunities for Women on the Ballyhoura Facebook page. I felt I already had some experience in healthcare to bring to the course and this would help me with some modules. I have been caring for my son with ASD and also for my mother. From a young age, I had to help a lot at home and on the farm as my mother had a stroke when I was 9. This change had a major impact on my life and meant I did not get the chance to complete my education. My mother has experienced several strokes over the last couple of years and I still help out. Growing up with this experience and also caring for Conor were strong influences on my decision to get a healthcare qualification. I was very nervous but I picked up the phone the next morning and rang Nichola at Ballyhoura Development. We met to talk about the course and after leaving that day I felt excited to begin a new chapter in my life. The course started in February, with personal development. I was nervous walking in on my first day. Nichola and the rest of the group were very welcoming and I enjoyed going to the course every Monday and Wednesday. The women who are doing the course with me are brilliant and the personal development helped us to bond as a group very quickly. But on March 13th the course was stopped due to COVID-19 sparking another change to our lives with lockdown, social distancing and becoming the teacher as well as being a Mum. It has also been a big change for the kids. Conor’s routine of going to school provided a much-needed structure for someone with ASD. He missed the routine and his friends and this massive change created lots of ups and downs. The girls missed their sports and socialising with their friends. As we are big fans of hurling in my family, we all really missed Limerick matches too, but the main thing is that we stay safe. My course continued on Zoom once a week with Nichola where she prepared us for interviews and helped us with our CVs as part of our now ‘remote’ personal development module. I had never done a CV before! The last jobs I worked in, it was basically pick up the phone and you were offered an interview. I was delighted to have my first CV done and I have also learned how to use a computer more. I have gained confidence as a person where I lacked confidence before I started the course. Healthcare for Women which is funded by the European Social Fund has brought a new chapter to my life and also to my family. For more information about the Healthcare Opportunities for Women or to register your interest, please contact Nichola Grufferty at [email protected] This project is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014 - 2020.