12 June 2019 – We were delighted to be part of an event with the Minister for Care at the Carers Centre in Tower Hamlets this morning celebrating both Carers Week and the Carers Centre’s 21st birthday. Cake and a joyful performance of new music by a group of adult carers and our musicians helped with the party feel!
Speaking at the event, Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage MP announced the Carers Innovation Fund, a £5 million fund that will invest in innovative new projects to improve the wellbeing of carers across the country. She commented: “Informal care is a fundamental part of our health and care system, which would not be sustainable without the incredible contribution of carers across the country. But we cannot take them for granted and must do more to protect their wellbeing and ensure they can enjoy full lives.”
Our Chief Executive, Nicky Goulder, commented: “I am delighted that the government and the Minister for care has taken this step to invest in innovative ways of supporting carers. At Create, we’ve seen the incredible impact of our creative arts programmes with adult carers including those who attend the Carers Centre Tower Hamlets. Our carefully tailored projects enable carers to build creative and arts skills, confidence and self-esteem, and reduce their isolation by socialising with people who understand the challenges they face. They also focus on wellbeing, giving carers essential ‘me-time’ and a chance to have fun.”
We have been delivering our creative:release project with adult carers at the Carers Centre in Tower Hamlets since 2017. This is funded by Reed Smith LLP, which also provides dedicated volunteers to collaborate with the participants during the workshops. Working with an average of 12 carers per project, our professional artists have explored artforms including music, photography, dance and ceramics with the carers. Each year’s project culminates in a showcase and lunch hosted by Reed Smith, where the carers celebrate their achievements and reconnect with the Reed Smith staff who have volunteered during the workshops.
Sandra, a carer who has taken part in several of these projects told us:
“I used to be a carer for my late husband, even though I didn’t know I was a carer at that time, and now I’m looking after my 87 year old father-in-law. He’s got vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s, and he’s also got prostate cancer which he’s had for 11 years. It’s hard work at times and can be very emotional. It can be lovely and rewarding but it can also be heart-breaking.
“When you’re a carer the time you get to yourself is a bit more restricted. Coming to the Carers Centre has helped me a tremendous amount though, spending time with other carers and making wonderful friends. If it weren’t for here then my life would be completely different – I would be very restricted and very isolated.
“When you’re a carer you aren’t able to afford a lot of things so projects like this can be the only way we get to do things like photography. That’s why we need things like Create to come in and give us these opportunities.
“Being creative at this project has made me feel a lot better because I’m actually doing something for me for a change. I’m very privileged to have had this opportunity. It’s made me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile. Getting better at photography has made me feel like I can actually do something and that I’m not as thick as I thought I was – it’s given me a lot of confidence.
“You don’t really take notice of what you’re seeing until you’re looking through the lens of a camera: the different shades, the lighting and everything like that; the light coming in through windows. I absolutely loved the black and white – it looks so natural and really reminded me of old fashioned pictures that they used to take in the olden days.
“I’ve always taken pictures, but only on my mobile. I didn’t want to give the camera back at the end of the project! I want a camera now – I’ll have to get my son and daughter to club together to buy me one.”