International Women’s Day – Profiling SIG’s Women – Veronica’s Story9 March 2022
In the third of our series of profiles for International Women’s Day week, today we profile Veronica Claridi.
Imagine growing up multiracial, multilingual, between countries, between cultures, and never quite feeling like you fit in. Then imagine using those conflicting parts of you to change the narrative of your life and then using them to become that woman who can put herself in another’s place and help those moving to a new country to settle well. All whilst building a career in which you help others to reclaim their lives. This is Veronica’s story.
Veronica is the Field Care Supervisor for Penrose Care and Support Service (PCCS). She grew up between Brazil and Italy with her Italo Brazilian father, Jewish Italian mother and older sister. Her parents were, and still are her role models, have been married for over 40 years and still love each other like the first day they met. Her Father has always been very passionate and open to learn and discover new things and her mother a strong, independent and direct woman. Their influence can be seen in the way Veronica lives and her love of life. Her family and friends describe her as kind, passionate, loud, honest and opinionated – with a hidden talent for carpentry.
Veronica and her ex-partner suffered through years of struggle with multiple miscarriages and failed IVF cycles. Finally, 5 and 2 years ago they became mummies to two wonderful boys who they are extremely devoted to. At times, especially since her partner moved out of London, it gets demanding and stressful trying to balance work, motherhood and living a normal life. But she wouldn’t change things and sees her children as the best part of them. In fact, her children have been the biggest influences in her life. They taught her patience and without mercy, pushed her to be a better person. She used to live for the day and partially because she moved around a lot and lived in many different countries, before settling in London, never felt at home. Her children though, now make her feel at home, wherever they are, as long as they are together.
Veronica grew up between the South of Italy, North of Italy and Brazil. Most cities in Brazil have a high index of criminality and social inequality, so growing up, although very privileged compared to others, Veronica witnessed a lot of social injustice. The family then moved to Italy, thinking that it would be different, and started again in Naples. It was not much different. She spent 5 years secluded within the walls of their apartment, with an invisible curfew, that would start when they returned from school to the next morning. The streets were very dangerous, with shootings and kidnappings being commonplace.
The family then moved to Milan, where they were constantly marginalized because of her father’s skin color or the fact that their Italian, at the beginning was not perfect. She felt like she had no clear identity or culture. They spoke three different languages at home and practiced two different religions. This meant celebrations and observances that her friends never heard about but which her and her sister had to participate in, regardless. This led to Veronica mixing with others that, like her, felt lost. She eventually channeled her experiences into wanting to help others.
Veronica spent many days between Italian public libraries and parks and got involved in the student’s political movements and became an integral part of what used to be a way of living. They believed and supported social equality, the right to live a good life and the right to be cared for, socially and medically. They thought they were going to change the world, while sipping Earl Gray and smoking cigars 😊… it was very much in fashion at the time, and definitely a political stand! This led Veronica to study sociology at university and to later move to London, which is more multi-cultural.
A new direction
Veronica worked in different settings and different industries, but care has always somehow been part of her life, whether it was a paid job or volunteering. She loves her job with SIG! She said: “I love everything that it stands for. At times I wish that days were longer, and I could be more in the community. While working, I get to really know other people’s struggles, success and progress and, knowing that I am part of it, gives me an immense sense of joy. I try not to get too emotionally attached, but I feel sometimes, it is inevitable.”
Veronica is also proud of the charity work she does hands on for refugees. She built a Hub in her area with few others, where they collect clothes, medicines, toys, blankets, etc. They take the donations to borders such as Dover and Calais in France and support families who have crossed the borders and are now living in London.
Although the last two years have been challenging for everyone, in Mental Health, the struggle to continue to provide high quality care, has been particularly difficult.
The future is bright
But Veronica feels very positive and optimistic, because the world has changed. She sees a free, more aware generation, which does not want to be pigeonholed, which rejects narrow and stringent parameters, which goes beyond the binary concept of life. She sees that, “…the new generation is a generation that lives a reality in which males can wear pink and female trousers, in which no one is upset if a man caresses another man just out of friendship, because it is not sexuality that defines a person. This is a generation that embraces different cultures and values and demonstrates it through art, music and life.”
SIG’s ethos is very important to Veronica, and she finds it inspiring as it accurately represents the society we should live in and encompasses different forms of care. She still desires to make a difference and realises that the more she grows and becomes more experienced, the more she can help those she is charged with supporting.
Veronica feels privileged to be here to witness the changes and growth of our organisation, of our society. She is happy and content and can’t wait to see what the future holds.