Meet Gemma Merrick, a Volunteer Coordinator for In Great Company. With a background in Aged Care and a passion for addressing loneliness in older individuals, Gemma finds satisfaction in the challenges of her role, and takes joy in facilitating heart-warming connections between volunteers and seniors.
What is your current role?
I am a Volunteer Coordinator for In Great Company recruiting volunteers to match them with isolated or lonely seniors for the purpose of companionship and friendship.
How long have you been in this role?
I’ve been in the role for around three months.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I was born and raised in the north of England, surrounded by my parents, one sister, and four brothers who all still reside in the UK. I began my career working in Aged Care for eight years before transitioning to the banking sector undertaking various roles over the following 10 years. After spending some years in Sales, I felt a yearning to return to a role focused on service. I loved my time working within Aged Care, so it made sense to go back to this area of work.
My husband, Lee, and I have been happily married since 2003. We have a son Daniel who is 23. When we were still living in the UK, we often thought about what it would it be like to immigrate particularly to Australia. By chance, we stumbled on an Emigration Expo advertised in the local newspaper that was being held near us. We decided to attend and ultimately made one of the best decisions of our lives to immigrate to Australia.
Engaging with helpful individuals at the expo, we realized that our dream was attainable. Leveraging Lee’s skills as an Electrician, a highly sought-after profession at the time, we enlisted the assistance of a visa agent to navigate the immigration process. Within eighteen months, we had sold our home and relocated to Brisbane.
Living in Australia has brought us immeasurable joy and happiness, the lifestyle, climate, and breath-taking beaches, and the pleasure of meeting wonderful people along the way.
What are your hobbies and interests?
I love building up a sweat at the gym, my favourite classes are Body Combat and Body Pump classes. I love spending time with my family, whether it’s a simple drive or a nice lunch, and taking my dog to the park or the beach. As a bit of a homebody, there’s nothing better than relaxing at home with a good book or cooking a roast dinner. Eventually I would like to hire a camper trailer to explore more of Australia.
What attracted you to In Great Company, delivered by Feros Care?
I was working as a Multi Program Assessor for Aspire4Life, and an opportunity came up for the role of Volunteer Coordinator at In Great Company. Reading about them really clicked with me. The role was so different to anything in my previous experience, and I absolutely loved the idea about tackling loneliness in older people. I have spoken with many seniors who just want some company, and now in this role, I can help do something about it.
What is the most satisfying part of your role?
I really enjoy the challenges of my role—it keeps things interesting. Being flexible and thinking creatively is key. Helping people connect over the causes they care about is incredibly satisfying. Hearing the heart-warming stories of client-volunteer friendships developing is the best part. It also helps that we have a really great team.
How valuable do you believe the In Great Company Volunteer service is?
I think the In Great Company service is so valuable in lots of ways. The program aims to tackle loneliness which will have such a positive impact on the senior community. It empowers volunteers to give back and be able to do something that they care about. In Great Company is not just running a program it is contributing to a cause.