Dumfries & Galloway Carers Centre provides advice and support for carers young and old, both one-to-one and in a group setting. It runs a drop-in service three times a week at its base in Dumfries, and also has support workers in Wigtownshire, the Stewartry, Upper Nithsdale and Annandale & Eskdale.
As well as giving advice on practical matters such as the Adult Carers Support Plan and accessing benefits, the Centre promotes the importance of carers’ health and wellbeing. It offers carers opportunities for taking some time out from caring duties, with fun outings and activities, and coffee and chat groups. It also has a fund that carers can apply to for a short respite break.
The Centre runs a special project aimed at young carers, and the Sunshine Group for parents and carers of babies and children with special needs. The Carers Centre also works to raise awareness of the needs of carers and the contribution they make.
Funding over three years towards the Health and Wellbeing project. The Carers Centre’s Health and Wellbeing project gives carers a chance to relax and enjoy peer support. It is delivered by two coordinators, and includes monthly lunch or coffee groups in four locations, monthly male carers groups (also in four locations), wellbeing days with relaxation and therapies available; mindfulness days and training sessions.
What’s happened so far with this project?
In the last 12 months, we have provided 30 different opportunities – from knitting and crafting to lunches, afternoon teas and days out – with 350 individual carers taking part regularly. Our Young Carers project has supported 100 new referrals and 229 returning users through either one to one sessions or group. In partnership with others, we have run training courses for carers on everything from dealing with stress, understanding dementia, continence awareness and moving and handling, to understanding mental illness, mindfulness and keeping fit. In the last year, we have provided two residential breaks for adult carers to enjoy rest and relaxation, while a group of ten young carers enjoyed attending the Scottish Young Carers Festival. We have recently developed a course in-house to respond to the fact that some carers seemed to be struggling with a lack of confidence. Co-produced with carers, the course has been piloted with a small group in Dumfries and will soon be available across the region.
And what's still to come?
We are continuing our activity programme for carers across the region and will look to offer additional courses and opportunities whenever possible. The male carers enjoyed a second trip this quarter and feedback was positive again, we will progress the trip format rather than returning to the previous monthly meal group. We are hoping to work with a local artist to put on some ‘Exploring Art’ classes, and are looking into offering some evening opening sessions for those who cannot attend our daytime service. Staff will offer one-to-one support appointments alongside bookable therapy and pamper sessions – it will be interesting to see the uptake of this.
What tips would you give to other organisations seeking funding for this kind of work?
I would advise others to ask their client group for ideas and not just assume that they know what their client group wants! Carers health and wellbeing is so important, and this kind of project works so well alongside the Adult Carers Support Plans being rolled out under the new Carers Act. I would also advise applicants to speak direct to the Robertson staff when considering an application – they are helpful and supportive, and will help shape an idea ready for application.
What difference does this funding award make to the work you do?
The Trust’s funding benefits a wide range of carers and enables us to explore opportunities we would otherwise struggle to develop. It allows us to try things out and build on ideas from staff and carers. These ‘tests’ often lead us to apply for other funding, having already demonstrated the benefits and uptake.
In order to successfully apply for funding under our Giving Strategy 2016-19, applicants must demonstrate how their work will contribute to one or more of the themes within the Trust's three new funding strands.
This application was eligible as a result of its fit with the following theme:
Funding Strand: Care and Wellbeing Theme 1: Ensuring the best quality of life for Scotland’s vulnerable adults, including those directly or indirectly affected by Dementia
“The Dumfries and Galloway Carers Centre is well connected locally and receives referrals from Social Work, NHS teams and other third sector bodies. It has experienced a large increase in the number of users and responded to clear need by incorporating specific support groups for male carers as well as courses for young carers and mindfulness and therapy sessions. We are a long-time supporter of this charity and recognise the important preventative work it undertakes to reduce physical and social isolation and, in turn, dependency on statutory services.”
Lesley Macdonald, Head of Giving