Having been a carer myself, I know how isolating the job can be. You look after the person you’re caring for and often don’t look after yourself. You’ve probably had to give up your job to look after your loved one, which means you lose contact with other people. It’s sad, but unfortunately for many carers it’s the reality of the situation.
What you really need is some sort of social life, someone to talk to and something to get you out of the house. And that’s exactly why I volunteer for CARES – the Carers Advice and Resources Establishment, Sandwell.
"Caring can be lonely, so you need some sort of social life"
I originally became involved with CARES through the support I received when I was caring for my father, and now I volunteer on the Board of Carers. We provide support for carers all over Sandwell near Birmingham, giving our members someone to talk to, projects to get involved with and reasons to carry on smiling, even when the world seems like a difficult place.
As an Engage Mutual customer, I get sent a copy of their annual report and saw that they were searching for community groups who were looking for support. I decided to apply so we could set up a community choir that could involve our members and provide them with some much-needed fun and relaxation time. I was so excited and surprised when we were awarded the funding – I could have started singing there and then! It can’t be over emphasised – it’s changed so many lives for the better.
"Our singing teacher brought everything together beautifully."
Once we received the funding, I was able to start bringing the group together. So many different carers and professionals joined the group, with varied singing abilities, but thanks to the funding, we were able to hire a singing teacher. She helped us all along, and brought everything together beautifully.
The award also paid for a new PA system, the cost of hiring the hall, leaflets and a final concert.
It’s been a wonderful experience and without the Foundation’s support, this wouldn’t have been possible.