A carers group in Lancaster is providing support to those in the area by offering a friendly, supportive atmosphere where people can share their feelings and experiences, in order to look after their own wellbeing and improve the care that they provide.
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Carers Café runs every Tuesday from 4-6pm at The Orchard in Lancaster and provides a place where local carers can access information and support whilst also making a peer support group of new friends. The group is looking for carers, loved ones or those who support someone with a mental illness to come along to the group.
Cath Thompson, Occupational Therapist Clinical Specialist at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said:
“We understand how carers improve the lives of others and how much they make a difference through all that they can and do give. Carers help us to ensure that the care plans we have in place are appropriate and can act as a voice for those unable to describe their situation.
“We recognise all of the difficulties that caring for another person can bring and the café aims to ensure that carers feel that they are supported too. The group provides a sanctuary for people to come along and share how they are feeling, listen to others, share experiences in order to look after their own wellbeing. We are looking for those people in the area to come along to the group for a chat with people who understand or are caring for people with a mental illness too.”
Joanne, member of the carers group at The Orchard in Lancaster said:
“The carers group at The Orchard is a vital resource and I didn’t discover the group until my son’s second psychotic experience. When a beloved child suffers such a horrible experience, it has a massive effect on the whole family and for me especially as his mother and his main carer. I found his episode very isolating, frightening and I was actually quite traumatised by it.
“In Britain today, there is constant talk of lack of resources and efforts to trying and get people out of hospital much quicker, this has meant that the role of the carer has become much vital in keeping people well. I feel very strongly that a lot of carers need a lot of support in this, as after all a lot of carers have never actually experienced mental health problems until their loved one becomes unwell. The support that you get within the group, helps you to become a better carer because it gives you a place to talk about the things that cause your frustration and may stop you from being kind, compassionate and gentle. Finding this carers group which has other carers and lovely facilitators who allow you to offload, shout and scream has been incredibly healing and I am just so grateful for it.”
Paul who has been attending the group for a number of years said:
“I have been coming to the group since it started, before it became a Carers Café back when it was a meeting for carers in the area to attend and actually through attending this group I become a Trust volunteer.
“The group is crucial for carers, particularly when you are looking after somebody and they go through a mental health crisis as there is not much out there to support you through that crisis. It is great to come here and be able to offload my feelings and have a place to be able to say what I want and how I feel. Carers need an outlet to be able to share frustrations and share the pressures that we are under. We sometimes have guest speakers which are really good in providing some background in caring. They can also empower you as they can provide information of what to do or how to approach contact from the Trust especially when someone you are caring for is experiencing crisis.”
Nicky, carer of two of her four children said:
“I care for both my son and youngest daughter in the community who suffer from various stages of depression and anxiety.
“The carers group has been an absolute lifeline, I have been attending for almost two years and it has always been a place where I can share freely, cry, laugh, scream and shout. It is somewhere I am able to vent my frustrations and also somewhere that I have made so many good friends. It feels like family and I truly value everyone’s advice. It is that knowing that you are not alone, as if it wasn’t for the group I would probably be ill myself by now. There is not always much support out in the community so finding this group really was a saving grace for me!”
If you are a carer who is looking for support, pop in to the Carers Café and have a chat, share, listen and laugh every Tuesday at Orchard, Pathfinders Drive, Lancaster, LA1 4JJ. For more information please contact Catherine.Thompson@lancashirecare.nhs.uk or by calling 01524 550600.