This blog post is an update of September’s Lewisham BME carers forum. This is one of the four carer forums I am involved with and it is held over at a community centre called Family Health ISIS. The BME Carers forum was set up to provide a platform of engagement, empowerment, updates and issue raising out in the community.
It is important to note that the forum focuses on black African & Caribean carers who support/care for those suffering from mental illness. This is also one of the forums that has a mixture of carers and those with lived experience.
For September we were forunate enough to have engagement from Lewisham & Bromely Healthwatch. Marzena the community engagement officer came along to speak about what Healthwatch is all about and their mission to let others know about the health services available to them. Basically Healthwatch works to help local people get the best out of their local health and social care services.
As in the name, Lewisham & Bromely Healthwatch are covering two south east London boroughs, so they have a large area to cover.
I felt that it is important all four of the carer forums have a link to their local healthwatches because many issues raised in the forums can be of great importance to such community organisations. It is important to note not all healthwatches are alike and they tend to work differently in each borough.
Marzena updated the forum about health services in the borough of Lewisham, but also spoke about the duties of healthwatch and what meetings they attended. Healthwatch have stronger connections to the health commissioners and other health and wellbeing committees.
There was many passionate discussions about the issues members of family health ISIS are going through and I hope other guest speakers can work with the forum to tackle such problems.
Marzena also spoke about looking after your health and mentioned diabetes groups and support. Healthwatch promoting diabetes peer support groups in the area. Healthwatch also gave away some free products such as pens and hand sanitizers.
I am grateful for Healthwatch for taking the time to engage with the BME mental health carer forum and hope they can attend the Lewisham Carers forum next year. Healthwatch also have offered to return to this forum in the new year.