It’s really clear from visiting groups and working alongside carers, that you all value the support and understanding offered by other carers.
Carers Leeds are pleased to be able to offer the opportunity to develop new support groups for carers by offering new and existing groups to apply for up to £300 to come together – either in person, on the phone or through social networking – to discuss their caring situation, socialise, share information and offer each other support.
Carers often value the opinions of other carers and Carer Support Groups can be a good source of support and information as well as providing a sense of relief for a carer to realise that they are not alone. For carers, belonging to a carer support group can offer the opportunity to:
- Share experiences and feelings with other people in a similar role
- Find ways to cope and reduce stress
- Find out about different services and how to use them
- Understand more about the condition and needs of the person they care for
- Have some time away from the demands of caring
Applications are welcomed from existing carers groups (groups that already meet) as well as new groups. Grants will be awarded (subject to funding) on a first come first served basis. Application forms are available from www.carersleeds.org.uk
Groups that do receive a grant will be asked to provide some information later in the year about how they have used the grant, for example, how many carers have benefited from the grant and what difference it has made for carers in the group.
Hints & Tips on Running Support Groups
Decide who is best placed to deal with inquiries from carers wishing to attend the group. The contact person must be available, as well as friendly, approachable and like dealing with people. A possible new member may be nervous or low in mood, and can easily be put off. As organisers, take responsibility to ensure your group is warm and welcoming and not seen as cliquey.
Venues are incredibly important. Holding a meeting in a formal setting, may make your group feel starchy and reserved. A warm and cosy room can help participants to feel relaxed and comfortable enough to share their thoughts and feelings. Somewhere with easier transport links and cheaper parking can be beneficial. A community hall might suit a group who want an inclusive setting. A city based group may choose a local coffee shop for being sociable and central.
- Providing free refreshments
One group based in a coffee shop pay for all their visitors’ refreshments – so no one will feel excluded if they can’t afford a drink. Perhaps the Grant for Carer Support Groups (mentioned above) could cover the cost of refreshments. Some groups make a small charge and use this to help pay for room hire. Advertising if there is a small charge is helpful, so no one is put on the spot
- Fun and Activities
What keeps people going back is not only the emotional comfort and moral support, but also having some fun. Popular fun activities can include pampering, singing, walking, flower arranging, arts and crafts, mystery tours, going out for a meal, or even a holiday. Some groups are relaxed places for conversation, with no planned activities. Others have a programme of activities and speakers – but allow some time for informal chat. You need to work with your group to see what feels right for them. Think about sharing the responsibility for event planning and fundraising.