Hello everyone and welcome to Opening Doors. My name is Bernadette O’Neill, and I am the volunteer coordinator for the project. I thought I would start by telling you a little about myself.
My background is in Occupational Therapy and I have worked within the learning disabilities field for twenty years now in various roles. In March this year I took over the role of volunteer coordinator at Opening Doors and I am really excited to begin working with organisations across London to enable the people we support to access sport and the arts.
I am passionate about the importance of life-long learning and trying new things, and the positive ways these benefit well-being and self-esteem. I am excited to be supporting people with learning disabilities to have access to opportunities which will enrich their lives.
I am also keen on challenging myself! In March 2020 I ran The Thames Meander Half Marathon to raise money for Opening Doors – and to prove to myself that I could actually do it!
I am pleased to say I completed the course and received my medal, which had the helpful message that ‘pain is just weakness leaving the body’! However, it certainly didn’t feel that way at the tenth mile when my legs were telling me I’d had enough! The sense of achievement and pride when I had finished, though, was incredible and taught me a lot about myself. It was also lovely to be around others and feel the support of the crowd along the way.
Although my becoming coordinator at Opening Doors has coincided with one of the biggest challenges the world has faced in living memory, I feel confident that we will go on to even bigger and better things in the future, and I can’t wait.