Get Active for our 20th Birthday Sponsored Walk

Community Activators and carers stretching before a walk

Community Activators and carers stretching before a walk

February is drawing to a close and the nation is divided on the issue of health – while some people have tried and failed to lose weight in the New Year, others have given up their favourite treats for lent. New fads to improve health seem to emerge every week, but for carers, it can be difficult to keep up.

According to the latest census, carers providing regular, unpaid care for their loved ones are twice as likely to have poorer health compared to non-carers, and almost 700,000 carers reported their health as ‘not good’. A further 35% of carers looking after someone for 20 hours or more reported having a limiting longstanding illness.

While the rest of the nation struggle with their increasing waistlines, we have a service specifically to help carers with their health. Jane and Kath (our Community Activators) have been working for three years to help carers gain confidence and lose weight, and they are continuing to improve the health and wellbeing of carers through breaks, activities and one-to-one meetings for another six months.

Kath and Jane provide personalised help and advice on what exercise might suit you best and special nutritional tips to get you healthy and happy. Their advice has helped over 500 carers and we’re grateful for all the work they’ve done so far – we can’t wait to see how many more carers they will help in the next few months!

Kath and Jane’s next project is getting people on board and ready to take part in the Carers’ Centre’s sponsored walk on Sunday 5th June, to celebrate our 20th birthday. The walk, kicking off Carers’ Week 2016, aims to raise awareness of carers and the issues they face in our community as well as funds for the centre. Kath and Jane will be running weekly walking groups in the coming months to prepare our carers for our trek through the Two Tunnels, so if you fancy raising money for the Carers Centre, please join us!!

Find out more or sign up on our website here.

If you’d like to join our weekly walks or want to take part in the sponsored walk on 5th June, please ring the centre on 01761 431 388.

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You’ve Got A Friend In Me

_MG_3446 elderly female carer holding hand of husband_smlLoneliness is a growing problem in the UK, with more and more elderly people facing daily isolation. AgeUK reports that more than 2 million people aged over-75 live alone and over 1 million elderly people go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. For carers, this isolation can be even worse – the Carers’ Trust say that 83% of carers feel lonely or isolated because of their caring role. The survey also found that 55% of carers felt that they were unable to get out of the house because of their caring responsibilities, while 45% can’t afford to take part in social activities.

Caring for someone day in, day out can be exhausting and emotionally draining. With few support networks for carers around and a lack of people who can empathise, carers often feel they can’t speak to anyone about their problems. We at the Carers’ Centre want to help. That’s why we’re launching our new telephone befriending programme, which should be in full swing by the end of the month.

The telephone befriending service will enable volunteers to speak to carers on the phone every few weeks to see how they’re doing. Andy Graham, our volunteering co-ordinator and lead on the project, has been training our volunteers in telephone befriending. They will start this work in the coming weeks, to the delight of many carers. “Befriending has been shown to be a very helpful, very simple solution to ongoing isolation and loneliness”, Andy says. Many of the befrienders are carers themselves, which we’re hoping will bring a more personal touch to the service. We can’t wait for this project underway and see how many carers we can help.

If you’d like to be a volunteer befriender and help a carer in need, please call the Carers’ Centre on 01761 431388.

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Our Support Group Project

Abstract green waveFeedback from our carers is essential for all the work we do here at the Carers Centre. If we didn’t speak to carers about what they like and don’t like about our services, we wouldn’t know the best way of shaping and creating services in the future. From phone calls with carers to giving out feedback forms during breaks, we listen to carers in everything we do.

A key way we get feedback about our services from carers is through our Annual Survey, which asks carers about their engagement with our service and if there’s anything they would change. Last year some carers wanted more regular contact with us, to gain a personal service. To address this, we’re reinstating our befriending service, which comes into force this month.

This shows our determination to include carer views in everything we do, and use their feedback to create better services for the future.

Our new project is no different.

At the Carers Centre, we currently have five support groups on offer, but we’re looking to expand this to help even more carers. We’re holding interviews in March to discuss what support groups carers want and how they should be organised. In the meantime, we’ve made an online questionnaire asking our carers for their views on support groups which can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GLP9WH7. If you’re a carer with something to say then I need your help!

If you’re a carer and would like more information or want to get involved in the project, please contact BANES Carers Centre on 01761 431388 or email holly.turrell@banescarerscentre.org.uk. 

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My Young Carer Story

MeeeeeeeeeLast Thursday was National Young Carers Awareness Day, which aimed to raise awareness of our amazing YCs and the unseen work they do every day. Last week we highlighted Joe Lomax, one of our fab YCs. This week, our blog takes a more personal tone, because I want to tell you my story.

My brother is funny and has the biggest smile of anyone I know. He is also severely autistic and has very limited communication skills. When I was younger, this was really hard for me, as I didn’t understand his disability or why he acts the way he does. Additionally, no one at school was in my situation, so I often felt lonely, and like I couldn’t relate to anyone.

Luckily, an amazing Young Carers service really helped me out. I was referred there by a social worker who felt I needed to be with children in a similar situation to myself. She was absolutely right, and that group helped me get out of the house and meet other children in tough circumstances.

I’ve worked at the CC for about seven months and I love my role. I run the YC Twitter account, organise this blog, and I’m currently researching support groups. However, my favourite thing about working here is helping kids with difficult home lives, just like I had at that age. Even simple things like taking them to the cinema or running an art club gives them the chance to relax and have fun. It’s always so great to put a smile on their faces and help a charity like the one that kept me going when I was their age.

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National Young Carers Awareness Day – 28th Jan

Joe in our Carers Centre garden

Joe in our Carers Centre garden

Tomorrow is National Young Carers Awareness Day, a national event aiming to inform the UK of who young carers are and the hidden struggles they face every day. Therefore today, we want to highlight one of our brilliant young carers, who we named our Young Carer of the Year 2015.

Seventeen-year-old Joe Lomax is the main carer for his mum, who suffers with chronic back pain. Joe manages to provide this care while attending college and looking for part time work. This isn’t all: he is becoming increasingly involved in our Young Carers service, acting as a fantastic role model for other young people. Joe’s friendliness, warmth and compassion means he always welcomes new Young Carers with a smile.

During the Young Carers ‘Big Day Out’ trip in August, Joe provided hands on help for the YC team, assisting the youngest boys to build rafts and row boats, while also organising the children effectively. At our bike workshop later that summer, Joe spoke to various trustees about the work he was doing to the bikes, providing an informative and funny description of the day’s events. They were really impressed, which helped their decision to fund more Young Carers activities in the New Year.

Joe is one of our most popular Young Carers and a true example of how amazing these young people are. It was an honour to award him our Young Carer of the Year 2015 and we can’t wait to see him again this year!

Young Carers Awareness Day is on Thursday 28th January – please get involved or donate to support Young Carers like Joe. You can find more information from The Carers Trust here: https://www.carers.org/young-carers-awareness-day

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‘January Trees’ – Our latest Arts Award evening

art-therapy-career2It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole week since our last Arts Award meeting with our amazing Young Carers! This fortnightly art club takes place at Woodlands and allows Young Carers aged 5-11 to explore loads of different creative mediums, including photography, clay modelling and painting.

As usual, there was a whirlwind of noise and glitter with our young carers chatting away about their Christmas while drawing what presents they got in the holidays. Once again the kids had a good laugh at my drawing skills (which even I admit are non-existent) before we had a break, where the kids enjoyed a huge game of hangman.

Then we got started on our latest project – designing a calendar which will go on sale in 2017. The kids will spent all year perfecting 12 pictures, one for each month of the year. It was so cool to see the kids enthuse about what colours they could use and design the coolest looking ‘January trees’ I’ve ever seen. The best part of this project is that next Saturday we’re taking the kids on a trip to the forest to capture some pictures of trees in January, to practice their photography skills and get some cool pictures for the calendar.

Sometimes as adults it’s easy to forget how tiny things like a game of hangman with your friends, a walk through the forest or the chance to draw freely can be so great, and it’s always lovely to see Young Carers in particular having this much fun, especially given their tough home lives. Their resilience always amazes me and makes me want to work with them even more. Can’t wait for next week’s session!

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All dressed up and somewhere to go

Today’s post was written by one of our carers, Fiona Carr, who cares for her husband John.

Fiona and John at our latest Annual Awards ceremony

Fiona and John at our latest Annual Awards ceremony

‘Would you and John like to represent the Carers’ Centre at an Award Ceremony in London next week as a guest of the BANES Care Commissioning Group?’ Janine asked me.  I immediately replied that of course I would, as I am always happy to promote the work of the Carers’ Centre.  It was only when Janine emailed me details of the event that I realised that it was a Black Tie event to be held at The Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane.  The event I learnt was going to be hosted by the Health Service Journal.  I frantically tried on my evening gown and John his dinner jacket to check that they still fitted.  Well, it has been quite a while since we had last wore them.

Then the doubts started.  My husband John is disabled following a massive stroke.  How are we going to cope at such an event with over 800 people attending?  How are we going to get around London?  Will people understand John who now has difficulty speaking?  But as the Japanese proverb says, fear is only as deep as the mind allows, so off to London we went.

Not only did we manage, we had the time of our lives.  Getting around London was easily solved by using taxis.  When we arrived at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Clive the Head of Security took us under his wings.  Throughout the night he went out of his way to make sure we were OK.  When we joined the ladies from the BANES Care Commissioning Group we were greeted like long lost friends.

Unfortunately we did not win an award but it was wonderful to hear about all the work that has been going on throughout the country to support Carers. The Health Service Journal had set up a Twitter page for the event, so I enjoyed using my recently acquired Twitter skills (learnt by attending a course at the Carers’ Centre) to tweet my appreciation to them.

Fiona

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Happy New Year from the Carers Centre!!

Happy-New-Year-2016-Download-Images-22It seems remarkable that 2016 is already upon us and before jumping straight into new activities we wanted to quickly look back at the highlights of the past year.

2015 was an amazing year for the Carers Centre. We held two successful craft fayres which showcased amazing local talent and raised money as well as awareness for carers in BANES. In terms of fundraising we had some brilliant events, like our amazing skydive which raised over £1000 for the centre! Alongside this we held loads of summer breaks for our young carers. We went to Longleat, a water park, horse riding, and even tobogganing!

In the autumn we held our first charity concert with the Mendip Male Voice Choir and Sing Your Heart Out, as well as our annual ‘Celebrating Carers’ ceremony. These were truly uplifting events that inspired everyone who attended. Excitingly, in November we completed the purchase of our Woodlands office, allowing us to provide a permanent place for carers. Then, to finish off the year, we were one of the chosen charities for the Saltford Santa Dash – what could be better than hundreds of Santas running to raise cash for the CC?!

2016 is set to be just as amazing, with a huge range of activities, breaks and events planned for this year.  We already have a whole host of activities underway at both centres, from art classes to information workshops. In the spring we have a focus group project taking place, as well as more Carers Voice meetings. We’re even planning a sponsored walk for Carers Week in June so watch this space! We will also be holding more craft fayres, loads of activities for young carers in the summer and ‘Celebrating Carers’ in the Autumn so we can reward even more carers for their unseen, amazing work.

We want to wish every carer a happy new year and we look forward to seeing you all in 2016!

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Family Time: Bath on Ice

Our Young Carers officer Steve enjoying the ice - he was surprisingly good!

Our Young Carers officer Steve enjoying the ice – he was surprisingly good!

Our carers were dancing on blades of glory as we took eight families to ‘Bath on Ice’; the temporary ice rink in Victoria Park this weekend.

Every carer had a different response to their first foray onto the ice. Some kids couldn’t wait to get going while others looked terrified – luckily many of them had penguins to help their balance. Meanwhile the anxious adults seemed to doubt their decision to skate, with one father looking at me as if to say “What have I let myself in for – and why have I agreed to an hour of it?!”

As we expected, there were lots of tumbles, with every carer falling over at least once. Luckily the stewards at Bath on Ice were quick to help and before long they were on their feet again. Many got up enough confidence to brave it alone and a few even managed some fancy footwork, which was great fun to watch!

When finished, our carers were delighted to go from ice back to solid ground. The children asked to go again while parents nursed newly-made bruises! However, everyone seemed to have a great time, and there were smiles all round. In our feedback forms, all families said they’d had a great time and the only downside of the trip was falling over so much!

Trips like these take a lot of planning but it’s all worth it to see families having fun and I can’t wait for our next Family Time adventure!

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We love our Community Activators!

Kath Hooper (middle) with her 'Partner of the Year' award

Kath Hooper (middle) with her ‘Partner of the Year’ award

As part of BANES Council’s Active Lifestyles team, Jane and Kath deliver a range of services to increase the health and well-being of carers. They perform health checks which measure the individual health risks of each carer and help find the right activities to suit carers and their lifestyles.

This amazing service really helps carers, as Adelaide Tiley tells us; “since I started with Jane I’ve really improved. My self-confidence has gone up, I’ve lost weight, and am more active. I want to go out and do things and I feel like I can”. Adelaide cares for husband Brian, who has also seen a positive change – “A couple of weeks ago she told me she was going out for a walk on her own. She would have never done that in the past…it’s a big change for the better”.

Due to all their hard work improving the health and wellbeing of carers we felt it was only right to give Jane and Kath our ‘Partner of the Year’ award at our Celebrating Carers event earlier this year. It’s so encouraging to see that carers benefit so much from a service like this – even better, Jane is running a break in February which all carers can come to! Why not join her for a walk through the two tunnels?

For details on the ramble with Jane Harvey or for more information on health checks, please ring the Carers Centre at 0800 0388 885

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