I’ve always been very aware of my privilege, and determined to use my skills to make a difference in the world. After completing an English degree at Oxford I joined my Local Authority and became a Case Officer in the Special Educational Needs department, liaising between parents, schools, health professionals and decision makers, a role that developed into that of Mediation Officer working to resolve conflicts between parents and the Local Authority.
I completed a Master’s degree in Education and Policy and Society, with a dissertation focused on joint working between Education and Health professionals. The lack of a joined up approach across services was one of the biggest challenges faced by the families and professionals I came into contact with. The work was rewarding but emotionally exhausting, and came with a lot of conflicting emotions about the system I was a part of and the challenges being faced by vulnerable children and their courageous families.
In 2011 I took a career break and left London to travel in Spain, Portugal and Morocco by bicycle. I realized that I needed to spend some time establishing what new path I wanted my life to take. Returning to England I moved to Cambridge where I worked part time and volunteered with Voiceability on a project for adults with learning disabilities. I went on to lead a self-advocacy project for young people with ASD, Speak Up Spectrum. But I was starting to be interested in a radical change. I wanted to be a part of a movement towards sustainable living that stepped outside from the mainstream, and where I could use my skills to support an alternative, low-impact way of living.
In 2014 my husband and I moved to the off-grid farm we currently live on in Central Portugal, on the outskirts of a small rural village, close to likeminded fellow immigrants from the UK. I work remotely via a mobile internet connection and we grow vegetables, keep chickens, have a compost toilet and solar energy. We are not 100% sustainable by any means, but are laying the foundations for a life more in harmony with nature and that enables me to thrive, so that I can make a greater impact. I’m honoured to be a part of Jijaze. The change we’re making takes vastly different forms, but our need for support, replenishment and a reminder to put our own needs first from time to time is one that connects us all.