Carers' support groups 

Carers' support groups help long-term carers. In this video, carers describe how their local group enabled them to care for others and for themselves.

Care and support guide

Transcript of Carers' support groups

My name's Gaynor, I'm 53

and I've been caring for numerous people in my family

for about 20 years now.

I didn't want to be a carer. I didn't even think of myself as a carer.

I just thought I was a mum, I'm a wife, I'm a daughter, I'm a niece,

everything that every other carer thinks about.

And then somebody said to me, "No, you're a carer."

And then I started going to the Carers Forum

and six years later I became a trustee.

I went up against the wall.

It was just... It was just rock bottom.

The support from the Carers Forum was a lifeline for me

because at the time I joined the Carers Forum,

it must be now eight years,

and at that time I was pretty desperate.

When I did go to the Carers Forum

and I was introduced to the other carers,

things evolved and I started to make friends among the other carers.

They gave me their phone numbers, I gave them mine

and I realised I wasn't isolated,

there were other people out there like me.

(Gaynor) For me it's the other carers,

knowing that there's other carers going through what I'm going through.

And with the Forum and other groups that you go to,

you can go in there and it doesn't matter how you feel,

whether you're crying or whether you're laughing,

they relate to how you are

and they give you the support that you need.

Sometimes you can't even speak to your own family

because they don't know exactly what you're going through.

It's like I can say to my mum, "Barry drove me mad today"

or I'll say, "It's a shame. I don't want that."

No carer wants sympathy.

They want somebody to understand them

and mainly they want somebody to listen to them.

When I got involved with Manchester Carers Forum

it was just going to the meetings once a month.

Then from there you find out that there's other support groups,

for Alzheimer's, dementia, drugs and alcohol, mental health,

so you can go to all those groups.

The kind of things that are available for carers are workshops,

they have workshops at the Forum,

and also they have things going on at the Carers Centre,

which is situated in the centre of the town.

They also have breaks for carers and days out

and these are invaluable, really.

The whole atmosphere for a carer changes when they go on this day out.

It doesn't seem very long, a few hours,

but for that day they see other carers which they have a rapport with,

they can talk to, discuss things and exchange information.

It gave me my life back.

It totally gave me my life back.

Before that I had nothing. I was trying to cope with everything on my own.

I felt suicidal, felt isolated. I was crying.

I didn't know who to turn to or what to do.

And I went to the Forum, went to a few of the monthly meetings

and then I started seeing that people there knew how I felt.

There was no sympathy, there was no judgment,

they just knew me as a carer.

If you've just become a carer, you need a carer's assessment.

A carer's assessment is for your needs.

It's not for the person that you're caring for,

it's for your needs and for what you want.

Like for me, I want a break occasionally.

I'd like education.

Maybe a carer would like some respite.

And it's for your needs so that you can carry on your caring role,

and it gives you that break.

Every carer needs a break occasionally.

When I'm in the home, I'm a carer.

When I walk out of the door and I go to meetings,

or I go and see other carers,

then I'm Gaynor.

So you've got to juggle it

but you've got to realise that there is life beyond caring.

And if I didn't have the support of the Forum and the carers that go there,

I wouldn't be here now.

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Taking a break from caring

Your carer's assessment may identify that you need a break from caring from time to time. Find out what this means in practice

You are not alone

If you feel like you're on your own, knowing there are others out there sharing similar experiences can really help