Carers Careline was first established in 1988. Since then, it has been supporting unpaid, unrecognised carers who are local to Redditch. Its charitable objective is:
To promote the health, mental and emotional wellbeing of adult carers, especially the elderly, in the local community through the identification of hidden carers, early intervention, preventative action and pastoral care.
The way in which this aim has been met over the years has changed and developed but always with the needs of carers at its core.
Carers Careline has worked hard to become a carer-centred organisation. Carers and people who have been carers are members of the board, many of them are volunteers in one way or another and many of them feel they have a share in the organisation. This is how one of our volunteers has described Carers Careline:
“We aim to enable carers to feel connected with us and with other carers in order to give them a support network that makes them feel safe, valued and cared for themselves".
"They spend their lives looking after others and the normality is that they forget, or do not have time and inclination, to ever focus on their own needs. Many carers are isolated, lonely and desperately unhappy. We strive to give them somewhere to come and someone to turn to when the going gets tough and they are finding life really difficult. Often our first meeting with them is often when they feel they have reached the end of their tether. We have no magic-wand, but we can always offer a cup of tea, a biscuit and a listening ear. Sometimes that is enough to enable them to press on through all of the social quagmire they find themselves in, they register with us and find that there can be a positive side to their caring role after all, they are not alone".
"We can give them information, advice and help in dealing with difficult forms or appointments. We can phone them regularly just to check that they are ‘okay’; often they tell us that these phone calls are the only ones they ever have that actually ask about them. We can arrange events and activities that give them some short respite from the tasks they perform day-in, day-out, and the person they are caring for. We can introduce them to other carers who are in the ‘same boat’ so that they can form mutually supportive friendships with people who share their stresses. We can arrange free counselling when it is needed".
"We run activity groups where like-minded carers can learn and practise gentle exercise, arts and crafts, creative writing, outdoor walking. One of the downsides of caring for someone else is loss of confidence and self-esteem. Our daily drop-ins give the opportunity for warm human contact, something we might take for granted but which should never be assumed. Often when someone is caring the whole of their social network collapses because friends, family, neighbours don’t know how to or don’t want to become involved. Someone actually chatting with you at a drop-in can make you feel human again in a way you may have completely forgotten".
“A huge aspect of caring for others is the carer’s mental and emotional health and wellbeing. Our organisation is committed to having a positive effect on the mental health of all who come through our door. Because of their personal experiences of caring, our front-line staff and volunteers deal with them with empathy and care. We recognise that the needs of those who come for help are different and varied. Some people just want practical help, many need to share their stories and display needs for a great deal of emotional support".
“Of course, carers often become ‘the bereaved’. Our support does not end. First of all, we give them as much bereavement support as we can, including counselling if they want it and a bereavement group which meets once a month and actually, anyone in Redditch can join as we have found there is no other local bereavement group. Our bereaved carers can remain registered with us as ‘life-after’ carers. Because they have formed such good friendships with other carers, our staff and our volunteers, they often feel that we are a kind of family to them, and they are as welcome to join in any of our support activities as they were when they were caring. Many of them then in turn become volunteers – they take on various tasks which suit them and they become another listening ear for the carers who are looking for someone who understands what they are going through.”
Covid 19 has had a big impact on current ways of working. Staff are now working a combination of office based and home working. Our volunteers are beginning to work in the office, but some are still choosing to work from home. Activities for carers are curtailed and we are just beginning to get some face-to-face activities going with the support of the Ecumenical Centre where we are based. It looks like it will be a while before the trips and outings which some carers enjoy so much can restart. Zoom is still part of the organisation whether for carer groups, board meetings, staff supervision or joint working. Facetime and What’s-App have had a huge part to play. The last 12 months have been a challenge for us and we expect that to continue through to the Summer. However, the organisation greatly benefits from the people involved at all levels and the efforts they have all made to ensure that Carers Careline can continue to operate during these unpredictable times.
The charity is a company limited by guarantee and is registered with the Charity Commission. The organisation is led by a board of 8 trustees. Most of our trustees are or have been carers and all of them are active in the work of the organisation.
Carers Careline has just been awarded a further five years’ funding by the National Community Lottery. This started on 1st September 2020 and runs until 31st August 2025. This funding covers approximately 50% of our expenditure so ongoing fund raising is essential. In the past this has come from a variety of sources including other trusts and foundations, donations and Carers Careline’s own fund-raising activities which includes a 100 club. Volunteers and carers are willing to get involved and support fund raising activities.