Carers Week 2016: Newham Carers Network, part of the Renewal Programme

Members of Newham Carers Network take part in a visual art workshop

For Carers Week 2016 Create is celebrating its amazing carer friendly partner organisations. Today we’d like to introduce you to Newham Carers Network, which we’ve worked with since 2012 on a number of multi-arts programmes for young and adult carers.

Newham Carers Network delivers a wide range of information, advice and support services to anyone who provides voluntary support on a regular basis to a family member or friend who experiences ill-health or disability. It strives to provide support to all carers and their families to ensure that they receive all the services they are entitled to. This includes carers being assessed in their own right and as part of the decision making process of the person they care for, as well as activities, training and events for carers.

Create has run creative:release with Newham Carers Network since 2014, thanks to funding and volunteer support from international law firm, Reed Smith. A survey commissioned by Revitalise in 2015 found that 40% of carers expressed fears about social isolation and 80% worried about what the future holds. We designed creative:release to provide adult carers with a creative and social outlet away from their caring role, and they have experienced visual art, photography, film-making and storytelling workshops to date, with ceramics planned for later in the year. The programme enhances Newham Carers Network’s services, enabling carers to develop supportive relationships with their peers, build self-confidence and self-esteem, engender a sense of empowerment and take a break from their caring responsibilities.  

Florence (not her real name) is a former carer who took part in creative:release. She looked after her mother for just over six years towards the end of her life and eventually moved in with her:

“When I was a full-time carer, I felt like I didn’t have a life. I had two and a half hours a week where somebody was paid to come in and sit with my mother. That more or less gave me time to rush off down the road and get repeat prescriptions for her. One month, my only social contact was with my dentist. 

“Caring is a difficult life and I lost contact with a lot of people. You need to put time into relationships but that’s something I didn’t really have. I didn’t get out much at all but I was supported by Newham Carers Network. When my mother died I thought that caring wouldn’t be part of my life any more, but I’ve kept that link with the carer service because it has such an important role in my life. 

“I’ve found my voice through Create’s arts programmes. Even when I feel a bit out of depth using technology or new techniques, I still feel comfortable here. Just to be exposed to new things helps because we can get trapped inside our own little shells. 

“I share everything I learned whilst I was caring with my mother with the other carers in the group so that they can benefit too. I think, caring or not, it’s important in life that everyone feels useful.”