Welcome to another carer blog post from Matthew Mckenzie a carer for someone with mental health difficulties. Now although this blog aims to express my thoughts on the world of caring, I often like to go to events and learn more about mental health or how carers can empower themselves.
It has been a while since I have been to a carers forum, in fact to be honest I mainly attend mental health forums especially ones over in Croydon, which are run by the HearUs Reach Out Croydon organisation. At the back of my mind, I am thinking to myself it would be great to find out where there are carer forums, although HearUs is also aimed at carers as well.
I also wanted to see what other boroughs were doing for carers and luckily through the social media, Carers Hub Lambeth were advertising many of their meetings and forums, which I desperately wanted to attend.
Carers Hub Lambeth were also happy for me to blog about the forum, so more information can reach other carers out in the borough of Lambeth especially on those who do not know about the forum or the services Carers Hub Lambeth can provide for them.
As you might already know, there are around 6.5 million carers in the UK, there are also around thousands of carers the Lambeth hub have on their database and there are more hidden carers struggling out there. It is critical more carers out there get the information and support they need to carry out their role or give carers greater freedom within their roles.
One of the best ways to empower carers is through a forum, especially one aimed at carers. On Thursday 10th July at 336 Brixton Road, SW9 7AA.
We heard from Lianna Etkind, Campaigns Officer from TRANSPORT FOR ALL giving an update on options for carers and the people carers care for on transport. We then heard from David Strong from the Disability Advice Service Lambeth on the Lambeth Carers Awards – Carers were consulted on what do we want from this annual event in order to celebrate carers.
The Hub Manager of Carers Hub Lambeth “Julie Mallett” gave a great introduction to the carers forum. Julie is a carer herself and has a large wealth of knowledge and dedication to carer services.
Julie talked about the latest Carers Hub Lambeth Newsletter and the recent Carers charity walk that was done at the end of may 2014, which raised around £300 for much needed breaks and outings for other carers struggling for time out.
One of the updates Julie mentioned was the “Social Care hub steering group” meeting, the co-production of Lambeth services with Carers & Service Users taking place in April and the next newsletter to be sent out in September.
There was also updates from the last Carers Hub Lambeth forum, where carers requested the Lambeth Hub concentrate in training workshops for carers, produce more information on carers rights and many other things.
After a quick update from the last Carers Hub Lambeth forum, Lianna Etkind, Campaigns Officer from TRANSPORT FOR ALL gave us carers some information about what “Transport for All” is about.
“Transport for All” believes in a fully accessible, reliable and affordable transport network for disabled and older Londoners. They provide specialised advice, information, advocacy and training to both service users and providers of accessible transport in the capital.
Transport for All are based at 336 Brixton road, but feel free to view their website http://www.transportforall.org.uk/
Lianna Etkind told us about Transport For All latest campaign movements, but she also wanted to here from us carers the following questions.
1. If us carers had the resources and money, what would we do to change transport in London.
2. What as carers do we WANT from Transport
We discussed this as carers in each of our 7 groups and feedback to Lianna.
I wanted cheaper travel for carers who cannot earn money so easily because they are busy caring for someone, the cost of travelling is increasing and effecting carers finances harder than ever. I also wanted to know if carers cannot get access to cheaper travel, then what benefits can carers take advantage of?
Other groups fed back on the following
– How can they get access to the Blue Badge pass
– How social workers should help people applying
– Cheaper travel
– Accessing transport without too much physical obstacles.
Lianna then took the time to talk about the following at the forum.
* Step free stations shown off the maps
* The difference between the what and blue wheelchair symbols on maps.
* The meaning of Ramps on the maps and their uses
* Uses of the “Taxi Card” and things to watch out for
* How to complain and also when to compliment about journeys
* Dial-a-ride booking
* The different types of freedom passes
* How “Transport for All” has done on their recent campaigns. Quite a lot of their campaigns have been done via the para-Olympics, plus their inquiry to the new Crossrail service.
After the advice session from Lianna, we then got to watch a film about how cycling can help in physical health and well-being. The film was from a group called “Wheels for Well-being”. Their site is http://www.wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk/
Wheels for Wellbeing is a charity supporting people of all ages in south London to enjoy the benefits of cycling, regardless of any physical or mental barriers they may experience.
Since 2007 they have supported thousands of people to cycle in London.
Abigail Tripp who is the Community Engagement Officer for “Wheels for wellbeing” told us carers about how “Wheels for Wellbeing” advise and consult those who attend their sessions. We also had some good questions from the attendees at the group on if the bikes could fold and why they had to move from Brockwell Park.
One of the carers actually had been on their sessions and commented how they enjoyed the cycling benefits.
Next up was the Lambeth Carers Award. We had David Strong from the Disability Advice Service Lambeth present the following about the awards
* What the “Lambeth Carers Awards” are all about
* How we need carers ideas on how the awards should be presented
* The different opinions other carers have mentioned about the awards
Next we have another group session on discussing and feeding back our views about the Lambeth Carers Awards. Most carers tended to want the awards to be spread out and to allow recognition among more carers.
We all then had a large free lunch treated to us by Carers Hub Lambeth.
Then to burn off the food, some of the carers took part in the “Chair Zumba” provided by Annia Krystyna from the “Zumba Gold” whose site is http://www.zumba.gold.com
I decided to speak to Cecelia Tsang, the Carers Hub Advice Case Work who is from “Age UK Lambeth“. I spoke to her about what things carers wanted help with the most and she mentioned it is usually about housing, benefits, charity access, advice and complaints.
Next I went for a massage session to help relieve any stress or tension since as a carer myself, I have been going through a difficult period.
My last thoughts about the forum is that I hope more spring up around the other boroughs in London and I am sure to attend a few more.
I can only hope and wish carers take advantage of these forums, so they know what is going on, how they can contribute or benefit from the forums and be part of the community, which not only helps carers provide care, but extend the philosophy that caring communities bring us all together.
So no carer is left isolated.