When you hear the word ‘meeting’, you might envisage people in suits sat around a table discussing the weekly numbers or looking at graphs with arrows pointing up. Team meetings at the Carers’ Centre are a world apart from this, and though we do talk about important matters (like Carers Week and our wellbeing festival), we also have a lot of laughs.
In our most recent team meeting, one of our Carers Support Officers Lorraine wrote a poem about the work of the newly formed Carers Outreach Team. It was so good we’ve decided to make it the feature of this week’s blog – enjoy!
Last month, the YC team treated some Young Adult Carers aged 17-24 (YACs) to a night of bowling at the Longwell Green complex in Bristol. Luckily, there were just enough of us to squeeze into our minibus, which was donated to us by The Wheels Project a year ago. Steve (the Young Carers Officer) was our driver for the evening and ensured the journey there was almost as fun as the actual event!
At Longwell Green, we enjoyed a drink and a quick sit down before heading off to the lanes. We started bowling and within ten minutes Cherie had established that she was the strike queen getting two strikes in her first two turns. Steve and Joe were in fierce competition; as the only two males there they felt they had something to prove!
I do a bit of everything: in terms of supporting carers I offer advice over the phone, as well as visiting them at home for longer support planning sessions.
Having been a carer myself, for multiple people, I know how tough it can be, often with no reward.
This understanding enables empathy, whilst being able to discuss the challenging aspects of being a carer: they may not have acknowledged or be struggling with the more complex feelings of guilt, anger or sadness, be it with anyone else or even to themselves. A good example of this is recognising that you can’t ‘fix’ the person you care for, and that’s ok; or coping with the effects of dementia on a loved one: you end up grieving twice. Grief in itself is a whole other ballgame…
I also work with a group of carers delivering training at Bath University. We teach Social Work Students the importance of carers, how to support them and treat them as expert partners. Leading on from this, I have been out in the community for the past couple of years raising awareness of what a carer is and encouraging agencies to refer to the Carers’ Centre. The most people I spoke to was 100, but even speaking to one person is worthwhile as they will tell one person, who will tell two people, and so on.
I also manage a team of people here at the centre. This brings its own challenges, but none have sued me for distress yet so I must be doing something right…
The sun shone on our Bath Centre last Sunday as 55 fantastic walkers completed our 20th Birthday Sponsored Walk through the Two Tunnels. It was amazing to see such a range of people walking, including some singers from the Jenny Peplow choir (who performed a fundraising concert for us just a few weeks ago!) and 9 year old Jack, who was eager to get going right away. After a welcome from Claire and Janine, the walkers set off at 11am, with smiles all round and even a few dogs!
Thanks to the fabulous weather, many of our walkers completed the full 9 mile route, only stopping midway for a pub lunch or a picnic –although Steve was on hand with the minibus for any carers that just wanted to complete the 4.5mile walk. Back at the centre, our walkers were rewarded for their time and effort with cream teas and mocktails, provided by our Chair of Trustees Jill Tremellen.
A few weeks ago, the fabulous Jenny Peplow singers held a fundraising concert in Radstock for the Carers’ Centre. I got to attend as a spectator rather than a staff member, which meant I could relax as the volunteers did all the hard work! I also took my mum along, because all mums like a nice choir. We entered the venue to a sea of volunteers and thankfully, a room packed with eager audience members – some were carers that I recognised from my work at the Carers’ Centre which was lovely to see. Mum and I bought some raffle tickets and headed upstairs for a better view.
Soon, the choir came out, introduced by conductor Jenny Peplow. Dressed in black, the all-female choir looked so impressive, and when they started singing we all knew we were in for a fantastic evening. Covering our favourite pop and musical numbers in stunning three and four part harmonies, every voice of the 44-strong choir added something to the mix. My favourite song was a cover of ‘Jar of Hearts’ by Christina Perry, just because of the anger they managed to express while still sounding beautiful. However my mum started crying at “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ before they’d even started singing! Continue reading Our Fundraising Concert→
In 2014, the Carers’ Centre was generously donated a garden from the One Show. 18 months on, the garden looks as fresh and vibrant as ever, thanks to our wonderful team of garden volunteers. The garden volunteers meet every Thursday morning to water plants, weed flower beds and ensure the garden looks inviting for carers, staff and professionals visiting the centre.
We’re thrilled to announce that the group is now being led by John Tucker, a gardening guru, who has led many gardening breaks at our Centre. John will guide gardeners through the necessary jobs and provide expert advice on how best to do the work. He has many years of experience as a gardener and deputy manager of Prior Park Garden Centre so he really knows his stuff!
To mark the start of National Carers Week, we at BANES Carers Centre are holding our first ever sponsored walk on Sunday, 5th June. The walk starts at 11am and will take our carers through the mysteries of the Two Tunnels, all the way to the Hope and Anchor in Midford, where our walkers can reward themselves with a pub lunch.
We have 4.5 or 9 mile options so the walkers can pick a route that’s best for them. Walkers can register as individuals or a whole family – our only ask is that they try and raise £50 in sponsorship money, though is just a goal, not a requirement! “Obviously we’d love to raise as much as possible but we also want people to get involved with their community,” says Janine, our Senior Development Manager.
The sun shone on our Woodlands building this weekend as we held our Spring Craft Fayre. It was lovely enjoying the weather and our centre was bustling with so many activities going on – we had Morris dancers, face painting, kids crafts and of course some beautiful handmade gifts on offer.
To kick start the day we were treated to a dance by Somerset Morris, who not only performed for us but also treated us to a quick workshop on how to do a Morris dance. It was great to see so many people getting involved in this, including Sonia and Janine, our CEO and Senior Development Manager!
Trudy cares for her husband Mark, who has a hereditary eye condition and is registered blind. For many years Trudy “just got on” with caring for Mark, but eventually struggled with her own emotional and physical wellbeing. Trudy says “I felt like I didn’t matter because Mark was the one who was suffering” – but many carers find that when their wellbeing suffers, their ability to care also suffers. Thankfully her GP referred her to our centre, where Trudy received support from our Community Activator service.
Trudy worked with our Community Activators for three months and saw a decrease in her weight and blood pressure. She says “the main thing was realising that I was not alone – the Carers’ Centre really helped me to know that other people were going through something similar”. This one-to-one support even helped Trudy’s confidence, and eventually she felt able to attend breaks run by the Carers’ Centre. Trudy says; “Mark has had a great deal of support and training from Blind Veterans UK. Now I am able to leave him at home and meet my friends again or go shopping without having to worry so much.”
Now that her confidence and wellbeing has improved, Trudy doesn’t just attend breaks with the Carers’ Centre: she often helps out at events and talks. She says; “I want to give something back to the Carers’ Centre as they have done so much for me”. Trudy volunteered to help at our last Craft Fayre in November and most recently lent a hand at our fundraising concert. She also regularly delivers talks to the social work students at Bath University so they can understand the realities of being a carer and volunteers at the RUH Carer Hub, providing support and advice for fellow carers.
Trudy’s devotion to give something back is always so inspiring and we’re so grateful for all of her hard work!
Spring is officially here and preparations are well underway for our third Craft Fayre here at the Carers Centre, on Saturday 7th May. Our Craft Fayres are a fantastic way to fundraise for the centre, as well as raise awareness of carers in the local community.
Our Craft Fayres also give carers the chance to make and sell their own products. Deb Frogley is one of the carers looking forward to selling her crafts at our 2016 Craft Fayre. She says; “I’ve been paper-crafting and scrapbooking for 6 or 7 years, after a friend got me into it. With crafting, I’ve been able to let loose, let myself make mistakes and know that not everything has to be ‘perfect’…in fact, bodges have often led to even better ideas!”
As a carer, it’s important for Deb to have a hobby that can help her cope with her caring role. “Being creative is part of my DNA (I’m a writer) and it keeps me balanced and sane!”, she says. “Craft and creativity are a huge release for me – but it’s only this year that I’ve taken the plunge and entered fairs, and BANES Carer’s will be my second!”.
Our previous craft fayres have been huge successes and we can’t wait to see what carers like Deb have to show us on the 7th May. Deb says; “I’m very much looking forward to it, and hope people will respond well to my handmade items”. We know they will Deb, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store!
If you’d like to buy some unique and handmade crafts, please join us on Saturday 7th May at our Bath Centre, from 10am-2pm. There’ll be a wide range of stalls, live entertainment, children’s activities, and homemade refreshments – it’s set to be a great day and we’d love you to join us!
News and views from Bath North East Somerset Carers Centre