A story by MECOPP
Over the last year we have been running a programme of short breaks (residential and day events) for carers, and people being cared for, from the Gypsy/Traveller community living in Perth & Kinross, Lothian and Argyll.
What Time Out did
We organised three residential events in Pitlochry in April, near Callander in June and near Appleby in September, and three Family Days in Oban, Edinburgh and Perth. The short breaks all had a focus on improving health and wellbeing. Participants, carers and those being cared for found themselves doing weird and wonderful things, including laughter therapy, wood craft, African drumming, basket-weaving, complementary therapies, relaxation, storytelling, herbalism, mindfulness and much more!
For the majority of those taking part, it was the first time they had experienced a 'short break' of this kind and all participants have spoken about the positive benefits of taking part.
Some quotes from carers include:
“Weather’s lovely, having a great time. I’ve had 2 really good massages, made a basket and done a herb class. I feel great for getting away, well worth while. “ “It’s been great to be around everyone, great company, great atmosphere”
“Having a great wee break, very therapeutic. Enjoying the courses, especially the basket making , I’m on top of the world!”
"Have to be honest, when you first asked me I wisnae sure, I didn't think it would be for me. But I can honestly say now this has been the best time in years, just catching up with folk, kinda reminds me how it used to be when Travellers were still allowed to travel, being around the campfire brought back so many memories. When's the next one?"
“Well I’ve had a great time. I’ve had massages, my nails done, made a fruit basket and some sort of fish decoration out of the basket stuff. We went for a lovely walk. Fun and relaxing. Really enjoyed myself.”
“I’ve laughed so much that I cried! That drumming was the best and dancing!"
“I’ve really enjoyed myself, it’s took me back. I loved being around the campfire. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone here. I don’t shift about much anymore so it’s been good meeting new people.”
"I really wasnae sure about coming along but I feel great, learned a lot, feeling confident, most important thing I learned I am not the only one. I know strange me saying that at my age but it's true"
"I’ve slept great, I feel good, no complaining – I’m usually greeting about something! You’ll be seeing me a lot more!"
What MECOPP has learnedLearning points: this was the first time MECOPP had organised short breaks for members of the Gypsy/Traveller community and staff were pleasantly surprised at how popular the short breaks were. In most cases we had to have a waiting list for places. Interest in the short breaks was primarily via 'word of mouth' within the community, for example one participant, who was initially very reluctant to attend a residential, had such a good time that she then told, and strongly encouraged, two relatives to attend the next residential. MECOPP had had no previous contact with these relatives and they were not in contact with local carer or mental health services.
Participants have been incredibly willing and open to trying completely new activities and experiences, the importance of peer support and people were really up for doing things that were different and that might make us feel a bit self-conscious, e.g. laughter workshop. But because everyone was up for it and supporting each other, we all looked silly together!