On Thursday 2nd April, I had the opportunity to speak at a conference, which focused on the Care Act. It was World Autism Day and was also the day after the Care Act came into force. The conference mainly focused on carers and children and young people with disabilities.
Firstly, we heard about the Care Act and what it meant for people – both those who were being cared for and carers. A carer is defined in the Care Act – they are someone over the age of 18 who care for an adult, to put it simply. The hour-long talk was really helpful for me as a social work student, as I got to know more about how it would impact on my practice as a social worker. I thought that many of the people there were carers at this point, but I later found out that I was wrong!
After that was break time, not much to say here, apart from I ate food!
Then we listened to an organisation called Carers Together. They talked about carers and how the Care Act relates to them. This was something I was really interested in as I work and volunteer with carers. I work with young carers too and the presentation also covered the new Children and Families Act, which came about in 2014. I haven’t learnt much about this in my course, so I was glad to have the opportunity to hear a bit more about the Act.
It was then lunch time, again not much to say here as I ate more food!
Before my speech, it was time to hear from an Independent Support organisation. They discussed independent support – what it meant, how people could be supported and for what reason. This talk didn’t particularly interest me, but it was handy to hear about, if I ever needed the service in my practice.
Questions then took place, so it was 1.55 by the time I was able to speak. I dislike being held up, but I managed to keep my anxiety together and got on with my speech. I think that I was the most nervous I have ever been. My legs were shaking and I got pains in my chest. I think this was because I had to give an emotional speech about my journey as a carer. I was going back to the past, which is still raw for me. I then asked if there was any questions and the room went silent. I was worried incase no-one would ask. I love it when people ask me questions as I feel like they have listened or at least have some response to what I have said. Eventually someone asked me a question and then more questions came that I was pleased about.
When I was about to leave a lot of people stopped me and congratulated me, thanked me and told me good luck. This is the best feeling in the world and is the reason why I love public speaking. I get so much confidence from it. No-one can take me down a peg or two after I’ve spoken. I feel so elated by the experience. I left the conference feeling proud and I would love to do it again!
If anyone wants me to speak at a conference, let me know, because I will say yes, provided someone else hasn’t got there first!