Caring for Carers in Mental Health - Dacorum

Hemel Hempstead

Your story

We are a support group of carers who look after someone close with serious and enduring mental illness. We offer respite, friendship, support and encouragement, as well as information built on our lived experiences.

Group introduction

The circumstances of mental illness can be bewildering, isolating as well as carrying a stigma. This affects not only those with the illness, but also those who are closest such as family members, often with little or no help or support. This can often affect the mental health of carers who are often the only source of support for those affected.

Our group began 25 years ago to give friendship and respite to those caring for loved ones with serious and enduring mental illness such as schizophrenia, bi-polar, personality disorders and other complex mental disorders.

We meet monthly to socialise and often have speakers from various services to advise on such matters as finance and benefits as well as psychiatric services.

We offer respite through our annual Christmas dinner and a summer outing as well as other social activities.

Members have described the group as a lifeline in an unrelenting situation and have been able to take their caring role more positively.

Some of our earlier members have represented our group as trustees and advisors to various organisations involved in mental health and have made some small but positive changes in health care.

Many members have become firm friends and all agree that our support group needs to reach out to those in similar situations so more people can benefit .

The isolating effect of caring for loved ones means reaching out to carers can be challenging, and therefore we plan to leaflet and provide posters to all GP surgeries, clinics, hospital waiting rooms, libraries etc., in order to make people aware of our existence and invite them to engage with us.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

We are mainly a self funding group raising the small amount we need with monthly raffles, quiz nights and occasional donations.

We would use the award to help pay for the cost of designing and printing a large amount of leaflets for our campaign to reach out to those who would benefit from our group.

"When there is little help for those who care, we look after and care for each other. A little goes a long way."

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