I finally found time to seek out my first carer support group in July 2017. What happens at a meeting and are they helpful? Answer – now kicking myself for not doing this earlier.
[Incidentally this annual summer treat for local carers is kindly funded from charitable donations from the Haddenham Beer Festival which was very good of them – thank you HBF team. I notice they have a summer and a winter festival, so if you like your beer, check them out. Personally I like the sound of the ‘Gin Fusion Bar’, but I digress..]
So why did I leave it so long before going to a carer support group? Work was certainly a factor, but painful to admit, it boiled down to pride and (over) self reliance. I didn’t ‘identify’ myself officially as a carer, because 1) it doesn’t sound ‘cool’ and 2) it felt like admitting weakness, asking for help when I could or should be able to cope. Too often the media portrays carers as one dimensional and to be pitied (though at times, we’ll take a little pity). But of course we are actually a diverse group of regular people who have just consciously made room in their lives for another. The thought of not caring for our elder parent or partner never entered our minds but it is blooming hard work. And some carers, especially young carers, need extra support from time to time.
I should have gotten over myself sooner. I was warmly welcomed by the 14 fellow ladies and Sally who works for Carers Bucks. We got to chatting and sharing stories. It felt a safe place to share the tough times, celebrate the good, have a blooming good cuss, have a good laugh and share vulnerabilities without judgement. Things that no matter how supportive kind professionals, friends and family are, only fellow carers truly understand. Other carers had experienced what I was experiencing, offered tips and I could do likewise. The resilience and can-do attitude in the face of adversity was inspirational and peppered with humbling stories of love and devotion. These carers are awesome.
Thanks to Maureen, Lyn and Sue particularly who shared their stories with me. Their experiences underlined how hard it is to find information and support and why this blog needed to start.
Thanks for the connections and recommendations Sally, they’ve been a big help. Carers Bucks continue to be a great source of advice and support too.
Fab photo ladies and see you at the next group.
If you are a carer in Buckinghamshire here is where you find out about Bucks Carers Support Groups near you. Their site also has good advice on benefits and power of attorney.
Other carers groups are available ;-).
Update at 8/1/2020. In 2020 Carers Bucks is changing their support group activity. The new groups aim to help carers develop new skills that help with caring (and beyond). Topics will include: maintaining health and healthy relationships, every day first aid, managing challenging behaviour, wills, power of attorney and future planning, managing stress, depression and anxiety, employment and volunteering and last but not least how technology can support us. There should still be plenty of time to share our experience between ourselves too, which I know we all find helpful. I’ll keep you posted.