Recently, we visited “Moving On” a group with a positive attitude, caring, supporting and helping others along the way. The members of Moving On are carers who have feel that meeting monthly is great for friendship and support amongst members. They come together for a chat and also over a bit of craft and photography.
Listening to people talk in the group, it was interesting to hear various comments about isolation and how this can gradually lead to depression, and a feeling of being scared to go out or socialise. But it was also really encouraging to hear comments such as "I had forgotten that I could feel better" and to hear a discussion about ways in which people could be encouraged to get together in groups, for example, by making groups free to attend, or by providing food or a focus.
“I had forgotten that I could feel better”
We chatted to Peter, who came with his wife, Val, to the UK from Australia a little under 30 years ago. Unfortunately, around 6 years ago, Val tripped and fell down the stairs, a tragic accident which left her with brain damaged and unable to care for herself.
Through contact with a local housing association, Peter found out about Moving On, and as well as attending other similar groups, he has found the companionship enormously helpful to him. He said:
“Groups like this encourage people to open up about things, like, it’s OK to be angry. That helps a lot”.
He added “It’s really good to share experiences, good and bad, to talk to people who are in the same situation and to learn coping mechanisms. Many times, I come home from a meeting where something has been said that fits with my situation, and then I think, I’ll try that with Val – after all, you don’t lose anything by trying!”
We asked about Peter’s thoughts on isolation and encouraging others to get together with people in their local community. He said "Isolation is a terrible problem, people can get really nervous about coming out and meeting others, but if they do try, they tend to stay and really benefit."
"Life is changing and we all need other people to help us along."
"After my wife’s accident, we moved to a supported living village, if it hadn’t been for coming to a carers group like this, I wouldn’t even have known that such places existed.”
Katherine, who worked in catering and used to live in Surrey said she moved to Birmingham after she met her husband. Since her husband is bipolar, she has been caring for him for 11 years, and she also does some voluntary work with Home Group.
She said, “I have been coming to this group for 2 years now, its good to hear about what others are doing, to share stories and experiences, I have also learnt new skills and ideas including craft activities”
“Isolation affects a lot of people with mental health issues, if there’s just the two of you, it can be quite lonely, I would always encourage other people to come to groups likes this, you can let your emotions out and then you don’t feel so alone”
As well as caring for their loved ones, both Peter and Katherine give their time to others in the community by engaging in various voluntary activities, they also understand the importance of looking after their own well-being, as, by doing this, they are better equipped themselves as carers.