As part of the Give Us a Break initiative it was extremely important that support was on hand once the ‘physical’ break to London had taken place. Some of our visitors were going back energised and recharged, whereas it was possible that some would find re-adjusting to their caring role slightly more challenging after a wonderful break away.
We have allocated part of the funding from Awards for All from the Big Lottery Fund to fund Give Us a Break Telephone Friendship Groups for our Hampshire carers. Telephone friendship groups aren’t necessarily new, but surprisingly they are an under-used resource.
In 2003, Jude Habib was involved in a pioneering project at the BBC called Ring Around Carers which offered friendship groups for carers over the telephone. These groups provided a much needed lifeline to carers who often found themselves socially isolated. These telephone groups lasted 45 minutes and were like a conference call of carers! They were a huge success and although the project finished in 2003 there are still Ring Around Carer groups in existence.
For our Give Us a Break phone groups, 4 or 5 carers will be invited to meet every week on the telephone. The groups will initially be facilitated by a trained member of staff through Carers Together, and then the idea is that the groups then lead themselves. These groups can be about anything: they’ll be able to talk about the latest episode of Eastenders or their favourite book as well as being a place where they can share problems due to their caring responsibilities. These groups are absolutely free to the carers, as funding is available for 10 weeks. That’s a lot of talking time!
We’ll keep you updated with these groups and once we’ve evaluated our Give Us a Break London trip we’ll upload our report.