Carers from minority groups living in Cumbernauld are being encouraged to participate in a special week of free online activities being hosted by Lanarkshire Carers Centre from 27-31 July 2020.
BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) Carers Celebration Week aims to provide carers from diverse backgrounds with an opportunity to become more confident using online video conferencing platforms, helping them overcome digital shyness and answering any questions that they may have.
Interactive online 90-minute sessions will be facilitated over each of the next five days for women living in Lanarkshire from all over the world, as well as the local Polish community.
The activities kick off on Monday 27 July 2020 with two Cuppa with Carers sessions, where individuals will be able to join Lanarkshire Carers Centre’s BAME Carer Support Worker and other carers online for a friendly chat over a cup of tea or coffee.
As the week progresses, Relaxation Sessions are scheduled to help carers de-stress and improve their health and wellbeing, whilst Steps to Good Mental Health will promote development of self-care techniques as well as suggestions and tips for maintaining good mental health.
For those more exercise-minded, Yoga Taster Sessions will enable carers to find an inner connection between breath, body and mind, with the final activity of the week being a fun general knowledge Carers Quiz where participants can win a £10 Amazon gift voucher.
Carers of all cultures are welcome to participate, including those already engaged with Lanarkshire Carers Centre’s International Women’s Group or Polish Carers Group and others who have not previously been involved. Interpretation will available during each of the sessions.
The full schedule for the week and details of how to book places can be viewed by clicking here. All that’s needed to take part is a smartphone, tablet or laptop and a stable internet connection. Mary McNeil, Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre, said:
“Caring can be stressful and draining, now more so than ever before, whether grappling with how to keep you and the person you care for safe, understanding the benefits system, or accessing care services.
“There are an estimated 6,500 unpaid carers living in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth, most of whom selflessly look after a family member or friend who has a disability, mental or physical illness or who needs extra help as they grow older.
“A proportion of these carers belong to minority groups, including Polish and Eastern European people, Syrian refugees and those of Asian descent.
“Caring’s impact on all aspects of life from relationships and health to finances and work should not be underestimated, with carers from BAME backgrounds often facing additional barriers and challenges in accessing the required support.
“Many unpaid carers struggle alone without assistance, and we believe that all groups in society – governments, employers, health and social care professionals, schools and communities – have a role to play in putting carers in touch with practical, financial and emotional help.
“That’s why Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is backing the excellent BAME Carers Celebration Week initiative being organised by Lanarkshire Carers Centre, and encourages Cumbernauld-based carers in this group to get involved.”
Lanarkshire Carers Centre is an experienced charity which offers a catalogue of services for carers living locally, including provision of Adult Carer Support Plans, facilitation of Carer Support Groups and helping carers to access short breaks.
The organisation works to empower carers to take a full part in all areas of its work, encouraging them to take a central role in designing, developing and delivering services. Ultimately, it strives to make a positive difference to the lives of carers across Lanarkshire.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought the role of carers into the spotlight in 2020, with Cornerstone House Centre being one of several local and national organisations eager to ensure that carers are adequately supported, equipped and recognised.
Social distancing and self-isolation measures have meant that some carers have found themselves removed from those normally around them. For many this has caused worry, distress and uncertainty.
Other carers, meanwhile, have faced challenges never experienced before. For example, some carers have been put under sustained duress without respite as a result of the indefinite postponement of key services, whilst some have had to endure the person they care for being confronted or judged for not wearing a face covering despite their medical exemption.
Last year, a survey found that unpaid carers in the UK are seven times more likely to be lonely than people who are not responsible for looking after a loved one living with an illness, disability or mental health condition.
According to the poll of more than 8,000 carers, one in three (35%) is always or often lonely, compared with one in 20 of the general population. It also found that the majority of carers provided more than 50 hours of care every week.
Survey respondents attributed their loneliness to becoming isolated from their friends and colleagues due to a lack of time and money, and also to the stigma of being a carer.
A campaign has been launched by six influential carer support organisations (Age UK, Carers Trust, Carers UK, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Oxfam and Rethink Mental Illness) highlighting an urgent need for the public, private and third sectors to work together to tackle loneliness and improve wellbeing amongst carers living in the UK. Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub endorses this initiative.
In Scotland, legislation was introduced in 2016 to strengthen the rights of carers. In particular, this provides carers with the right to access support if their needs meet a local eligibility criteria for carers, the right to be involved in care planning and assessment procedures for the person they care for and the right to be involved in the planning and development of any carer services.
Other organisations that provide useful guidance for local carers include CACE Older People Active Lives, Carers Trust, Carers UK, Crossroads Caring Scotland, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Citizens Advice Bureau, Cumbernauld Poverty Action, Independent Age, North Lanarkshire Disability Forum and Partners in Play.
A free Carer’s Assessment can be requested by anyone aged 18 or over by contacting North Lanarkshire Council’s Cumbernauld Social Work Locality Service on 01236 638700 or emailing CumbRecServices@northlan.gov.uk.