THE founder of one of the city’s most valuable lifelines of support has waved goodbye to Wearside.
Eighteen years ago, Ailsa Martin set up Sunderland’s Carers’ Centre in a bid to help the city’s unpaid army of carers who sacrifice their time to care for their loved ones.
Those she has helped paid their thanks as she retires to return to her native Scotland while the centre she created in Southwick continues to be an invaluable resource of support and information.
Ailsa set up Sunderland Carers’ Centre in 1994, one of the first Carers’ Centres in the Princess Royal Trust for Carers network across the country.
Starting in humble beginnings on Southwick Green, Ailsa worked tirelessly to develop the organisation and now it is one of the most established and respected Carers’ Centres in the country.
Alan Patchett of Age UK said: “Ailsa Martin has been an inspirational figure in the voluntary and community sector in Sunderland for many years.
“She is held in high esteem for her dedication and tireless work for carers and disadvantaged people and her contribution to the life of city is greatly valued.
“I greatly admire her and value her friendship and counsel.
“She will be greatly missed. I wish her all the very best for the future and hope she has a long and happy retirement.”
Under Ailsa’s leadership, the Carers’ Centre is now supporting more carers than ever: in 1994 just four members of staff were providing this vital support, now there are 22.
To cope with such demand Ailsa has just overseen the move to new premises in Thompson Park after more than a decade in Toward Road, Hendon.
Penny Davison, senior business and contract manager at NHS South of Tyne and Wear, said: “Ailsa has always shown the upmost commitment to carers in Sunderland, and because of her leadership, carers in Sunderland have access to many crucial support services.
“Personally I have learnt much from Ailsa, not only about carers, but also how to stand up for what’s right and make a difference.
“I am sad for Sunderland – we will all miss her expertise, willingness to get things done and challenging us to do better. “
She added: “I am really proud of the work we have done together on improving the health of Carers and without Ailsa we would not have achieved it.”
l If you would like to send Ailsa your best wishes email reception@sunderlandcarers or send them to Sunderland Carers’ Centre, Thompson Park, Thompson Road, Sunderland, SR5 1SF.