A story by Support in Mind Scotland
The initial aim of Carers Voice was to offer a series of sessions comprising of art/creative work and a number of workshops consisting of spoken word/song and creative writing over a period of 8 weeks twice a year.
The purpose of these sessions were primarily to give mental health carers the opportunity to have a bit of ‘time out’ in a place where they could come to express themselves, learn new skills or take up activity in a supportive and creative manner.
What Carers' Voices did
As we reported in our half way report this project was late in getting of the ground due to other commitments within the Stafford Centre, and a change of personnel. Work was undertaken by two sessional workers with the original support of our carers support worker to set up an art group and musical workshops. Details of these workshops were distributed though other key carer organisations and via social media as well as our own data base of carers. Whilst there was a good take up of carers for the Art sessions, there was less interest in the music/recording sessions.
After a few music sessions it was decided not to go ahead with these, the carers attending these sessions were also taking part in the art workshops and said that they would rather concentrate on them and would keep it in mind that a worker was available if they did want to record something about their art work.
Originally we were to facilitate 16 sessions of art workshops at 2 hrs a session, but it was decided to allow 3.5 hrs for each session allowing for set up, preparation and to run this for 12 weeks. An extra week was added so that we could draw things together for the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival.
What Support in Mind Scotland has learnedAs an organisation we learned how valuable our personalised service was to the carers who attended. They valued having individual carers' support available as well as the recreational and educational value of the art groups. This course would not have been within our capacity without the funding to provide it.
We also learned how difficult it was for carers to manage to attend at all and find the time to attend regularly with their caring situations. In a few instances carers did not manage to return or were called away during the course. Again some people voiced that it was manageable to come along knowing that they could ask for support or talk about their situation on a one to one basis.
One challenge, it was surprising that the music project did not have a viable number of attenders. We have reflected on our approach in promotion/content of the course offered and considering a different approach in the future (we are in fact offering music/song sessions to carers in partnership with another organisation beginning January 2016).