I went to my first carer support group in July 2017. What happens at a meeting and are they helpful? Kicking myself for not going earlier.
So why did I leave it so long before going to a carer support group? Work was certainly a factor, though I’m ashamed to admit, it boiled down to pride and over inflated sense of self reliance. I didn’t ‘identify’ myself as a carer, because 1) it doesn’t sound ‘cool’ and 2) it felt like admitting weakness, asking for help when I felt I could or should be able to cope. Too often the media portrays carers one dimensionally and people to be pitied (though at times, we’ll take a little pity).
Carers are an increasingly diverse group of people who have simply consciously made room in their lives for another. The thought of not caring for our elder parent or partner probably never entered our minds but it is often blooming hard work. Most carers, especially young carers, need extra support from time to time.
Just do it and go!
I should have gotten over myself sooner. The 14 fellow ladies and Sally who works for Carers Bucks warmly welcomed me. We got to chatting and sharing stories. It felt a safe place to share the tough times, celebrate the good, have a good cuss or a good laugh and share vulnerabilities without judgement. Things that no matter how supportive kind professionals, friends and family are, only fellow carers understand. Other carers had experienced what I was experiencing, offered tips and I could do likewise. The carers’ 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’re a carer in Buckinghamshire here’s where you find out about Bucks Carers Support Groups near you. Their site has good advice on welfare benefits and power of attorney too. You can also expect: crisis support, independent advocacy if you’re getting nowhere with social services, support with carers needs assessment, referrals and signposting to appropriate organisations, health and wellbeing support and activities, creative groups, appropriate emotional support.
Other carers groups are available ;-).
*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’.
Update 1/5/2021. In 2020 Carers Bucks changed their carer 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’s still be plenty of time to share experiences between ourselves too, which I know we all find helpful. Due to the pandemic, these moved online but may move back to face to face when safe to do so.