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 Joan Fraser
Joan Fraser
It all started with a train journey for former chairperson of the Helensburgh ENABLE branch and long-time volunteer, Joan Fraser.

“In 1988, I had a business in Dumbarton and commuted by rail. People who were supported by ENABLE then travelled by train to the adult training centre in Dumbarton.

“Public transport being what it was, very often trains were cancelled and we all just kind of drifted together. Getting to know my travelling companions, I also got to know quite a lot of the families. And before I knew it I was invited to join the local branch,” recalls Joan.

And so began a 25-year relationship with ENABLE Scotland, both locally and nationally. Joan has been involved with ENABLE Scotland in many different ways, from fundraising to vice chair and then chairperson of her local branch in Helensburgh.

And it was her role as a volunteer which led to a change of direction in her professional life.

“Through volunteering, I’ve changed my career.  I’ve moved away from the business and I’m now an independent advocate in another authority.”

Joan has seen how things have changed for the better for people who have learning disabilities.  

“One of the major changes people have experienced is having a say in their lives.  People now know they have choice. They have more of a say in what they do with their lives.  It is absolutely about choice and control.”

Through volunteering, Joan says her life has been enriched and she enjoys helping people take more control of their own destiny.  By working as a volunteer and not as an employee of ENABLE Scotland, she can challenge the organisation and other authorities in ways she might not be able to do otherwise.

While Joan modestly acknowledges the important role she has played in many people’s lives, she says that she’ll never be complacent.  

Although she recently stepped down from her post as chairperson at her local branch, Joan hopes that the organisation will continue to flourish and remember its roots.

“I have promoted, supported and believed in ENABLE strongly because the ENABLE family ethos is exactly what we have down here in Helensburgh.  As we grow, the challenge will be to keep individual, personal contact alive.”

Joan’s journey with ENABLE Scotland may be at an end but her time as a volunteer has had an effect that will last a lifetime.

“My life has been made richer through some of the people I’ve known and worked with over the years, and for that I will always be grateful.”

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