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Volunteer of The Year 2021

At Bipolar Scotland volunteers are at the heart of everything we do. From self-help groups to the boardroom, we have people dedicating their free time to help us support those living with bipolar. Every year, at our annual conference, we highlight the work of one of our volunteers for special recognition.

This year the winner of our Kenneth Lamont Volunteer of the Year Award was Meredith ‘Mere’ Greta. With her background in finance, she has provided support behind the scenes managing our accounts and giving financial advice.

Mere has been on quite the journey before eventually landing at Bipolar Scotland. Growing up in Iowa, it was there at a young age that her family taught her the importance of volunteering and helping others.

I’ve been volunteering since I was 12, my parents made sure to emphasise that if you have extra time or you have a gift or something you can share it’s really important to be as helpful as you can be.

With these values instilled in her, Mere has always looked to help relieve the pressures of accounting for charities she believes in, allowing them to fully focus on carrying out their vision. Before she had her financial skills however, guided by her parent’s message, Mere found different ways to support others.

I started volunteering at old folk’s homes, so I would go to nursing homes and just hang out with them especially the Alzheimer’s unit. It was good to have conversations with people and support them that way.

After graduating from university in Iowa at the height of the financial crisis, Mere found opportunities hard to come by in the financial world. Having studied Chinese alongside her degree, Mere decided to move to Taiwan to become a teacher where she could continue to learn the language.

It was in Taiwan where she met her husband, a fellow teacher, who had also emigrated from Inverness. After spending six years in Taiwan, they moved to Scotland and have lived here for the last six years. When she isn’t volunteering, she currently works as an administrator for the International Association of Community Development where she is tasked with connecting people across the world.

So, after a short trip from Iowa, via Taiwan, Mere found herself working in Scotland where she finally came across our organisation. Mere saw Bipolar Scotland as the type of charity that she could get behind and has been able to provide a huge amount of support during a challenging time. What was it about Bipolar Scotland that appealed to her?

There are people in my family who have really struggled with bipolar, and they haven’t really … maybe because it was in America and maybe it’s our health situation and years ago it wasn’t as acceptable to talk about it publicly. I feel like there were people in my family that could have benefitted from a group like Bipolar Scotland, just to even have a language to be able to talk about what’s going on is really powerful and is something that the groups provide here.

There is so much to gain from volunteering and helping out causes close to your heart. When asked what benefits she gets from volunteering Mere had this to say.

I love it! What I really love the most, I have a background in finance and accounting, so what I really like to do is go into organisations where I really love their message and take that financial worry away for them. It just feels so good to have a skill that’s helpful to people, so I get a lot out of it.

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