On Tuesday the 10th of June 2014 I decided to take a trip to Lewisham’s Civic suite for the Carers day event which runs from carers week 2014.
What is carers week?
Carers Week is a UK-wide annual awareness campaign which takes place from Monday 9 to Sunday 15 June 2014.
Being a carer myself for over 11 years, I feel an interest and a connection in raising carer awareness, although my role as a carer has been on mental health care.
I have actually been to the Lewisham’s reaching out to carers event 3 or 4 times, so I had some idea what to expect. Usually you would have numerous stalls, posters and flyers, some speeches, lunch and a wellbeing treatment room where you could get massage or other forms or relaxation.
All these things are critical for carers especially the number one thing being “Information”. What tends to hit carers the most is lack of information, be it information on what to do as a carer, information on getting support, information on looking after themselves or their caree (that being the person who they care for).
As I arrived at the “Reaching out for carers” event. I was greated by staff who are passionate by carers. One was off the Lewisham carer’s partnership board and I know he works very hard to raising awareness and services for carers in lewisham. The other staff who signed me in was the “Carers lewisham” youth worker.
I got my raffle ticket off the welcoming staff and also a goodie bag filled with
carer packs and information. There was quite a lot, so this impressed me.
Most of the day was spent wandering from stall to stall, although this year I did not talk too much to the other stall holders, but I saw the usual being “Lewisham Talking Newspaper”, “FORVIL stall (Vietnamese support for Lewisham Vietnamese residents”, “Lewisham IAPTs (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies” and several other stalls.
The main stalls I visited were the “Lewisham Carers” stall, SLaM carers information stall “SLaM” stands for South London and Maudsley trust and I visited and chatted to those holding the IAPTs stall.
To be honest I used to go to the “Reaching out for carers” event to look for information and I guess I still do at some point, but the main reason now is to reach out to carers, not because I can try offer any support, its mainly because I am still looking for that connection, I am looking for the network of carers. I usually go to carers groups in my borough which is Lewisham and I meet some familiar faces, but being a carer can often be a lonely role. It can be hard to be understood as carers battle for ever decreasing support.
This year’s carers event held over at Lewisham’s civic suite did not disappoint when speaking to other carers, I met a few who are well known to Lewisham on their caring role. I spoke to them on what they thought about the event and most were fairly happy. I asked them how they were getting along in their well being and caring role and things were improving as long as they themselves felt valued.
I also did the same for the stall holders where I asked how they were in themselves and unfortunately some were ill. In my “mind” I thought what pressure are they under? Could it be service changes? could it be proving support to carers that might be demanding? None of the stall holders told me. However I do sympathize with most of them.
I did not stay too long at the event because I had to pop into work. Luckily I work part time to support myself financially and we ll get on to that another day because carers definitely need financial support, but this is lacking because they are busy caring.
Overall I was fairly pleased with the event and I wished I took more pictures. I hope to attend more events in future regarding carers or mental health events.