We’re still smiling

Give us a Break carers' holiday - in pictures

Click on the photo to view Guardian slideshow

It has been almost a month since 20 carers arrived from Hampshire to take part in our pilot Give Us a Break project. Between 28 – 30 June 2011, they stayed for 2 nights at B&B’s arranged by the London Bed and Breakfast Agency – essentially private homes opened up for guests – while we helped them explore London by bus, train, boat and London Eye.

These are people who care for others full-time, and in doing so, rarely see to their own needs. That can lead to their own mental and physical health being seriously compromised unless they too receive support, and crucially, a break from their day to day responsibilities. So this is what we did.

The smiles you can see on the slideshow above (courtesy of the Guardian) are all real – the feedback was, without exception, positive.

Every single carer that has come along on this trip today, has said to me they had actually forgotten about their caring role. ..it has been a fantastic success.

Even when public transport failed us, forcing disabled members up and down endless flights of stairs, there were no complaints.

When we came home, we felt we were smiling inside and full of confidence
(Maureen and Kim)

Going back to reality, however, isn’t always easy. So we are providing ongoing support in the form of telephone friendship groups – weekly ‘meet-ups’ on the phone to discuss anything they like. We’ll update you very soon on how these are going.

It has given me the strength to carry on.

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