Carers Week 12-18th June

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.

You are a carer if you provide unpaid help and support to a family member, friend or neighbour who would otherwise not be able to manage. The person you care for may have a physical or learning disability, dementia, mental health problems, may misuse drugs or alcohol or, most commonly, is ill or frail. The person may live with you or elsewhere, may be an adult or a child but if they rely on you for support, then you are a carer.

All of us can can become a carer; frequently people do not realise they are a “carer”– for some this role slowly enters their life and therefore many carers go unidentified until several years into their caring role. Indeed 3 out of 5 of us will become carers at some time in our lives.

The Letchworth Centre has always recognised that taking on a caring role can mean facing a life of isolation, frustration, ill health and for many, depression. We understand that many carers struggle alone and deserve help and support to maintain their own wellbeing as well as that of the person they are caring for.  We value the tremendous work undertaken by carers and know how our health and social care systems depends on the army of carers delivering care day-in-and-day-out.

Complementary therapies and group-based approaches have much to offer carers – in helping reduce stress, promoting relaxation and in restoring depleted energy. For many years now we have provided interventions and initiatives to support carers. The most successful of these is a carers yoga drop-in session taught by Lisa Challice (Saibhung Kaur) recently we asked participants to tell us how these sessions and our work supports them. They said….

“Coming has helped with posture and breathing.  You go away feeling better”

“I was a carer for my wife, she went to the singing group here when I came to this class. She wasn’t always very keen but the staff here really helped and would sit and talk to her when she was unsettled.  Coming here helped me then and when my wife died.  Coming here gives me stress relief and its nice to have a break.  I like meeting people and doing exercise”

“I have been coming to the centre for many years.  When my husband got diagnosed with dementia I started the yoga for carers class and my husband went to a singing group also run at the centre.  That was really good having a group for him as well so I didn’t have to worry about getting help in at home.  This class has been a life-line for me and has helped me through when my husband died.  The teacher is very supportive but not through overt sympathy, through underlying acceptance, care and support.  Coming here when I was caring for my husband this class was my only let-up.  You come and the worry lifts and its pure joy.”                                       The yoga drop-in session is on a Friday from 2-3pm at the Letchworth Centre. £5 per class.

The award-winning Carers in Hertfordshire works with and for carers, providing information, problem solving, advice and support. It enables carers to participate in service planning and decision making and provides a platform for the voice of carers to be heard. It’s groundbreaking Carers Passport Discount Card is a fantastic resource for carers as it provides valued financial support through savings, services and business offers  – it also helps carers feel recognised and valued, giving a real sense of identify with the photo identity card. To find our more about the Passport and the work of Carers in Hertfordshire visit www.carersinherts.org.uk, call 01992 586969/ 586959 or email contact@carersinherts.org.uk

Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North is a superb local organisation that works with over 1200 carers in the county, providing essential breaks, support and advice. Visit www.crossroadshn.org.uk or call 01462 455578 for further details.