50 years of the carers movement celebrated at Woolwich Town Hall

Nationally the carers movement is acknowledged to have been started in Greenwich by Mary Webster, founder of Carers UK, who started her campaign to support carers back in the early 1960s after she found herself caring for her elderly parents. This week, National Carers Week, to recognise what she did for carers and look at what can be done in future to support carers we jointly organised a special event. 

The event, attended by 61 carers, was hosted by Greenwich Carers Centre, Royal Borough of Greenwich and Oxleas. Councillor Mick Hayes, Deputy Mayor opened the event, with Councillor John Fahy acknowledging the 22,000 people in the borough involved in caring and thanking them for their service. 

Dave Mellish, Oxleas Chair, spoke about how our services touch the lives of most people living in Greenwich in one way or another and that we could not provide our services without the involvement of carers. He said it was really important to get feedback from carers regarding the services we provide, to help us improve these to benefit local people.

Dave said: “Today is very much a celebration of the role of carers and I’d like to thank all carers in Greenwich. We have developed a new Carers Strategy to put the care of carers alongside the care of our patients”.

Sue Mitchell, the Chief Executive and Stephen Kemp, Coordinator for the P2P Marketplace, Greenwich Carers Centre then talked about this new initiative and how people could get involved.

Throughout the day there were round table discussions about a range of issues of high importance to carers, such as training and employment, advocacy, carer strategies, the new Carers Centre, personalisation and respite. Issues and actions will be considered.

Carers also had the opportunity to talk about their experiences on camera in the video booth, run by Kaye Jones and Mark Bradley from our Adult Learning Disability Services. Four carers told their story, feeling more empowered to talk in this way, several saying it was nice to get it things off their chest, and that the experience was almost therapeutic. Kaye and Mark also commented how powerful people’s stories were and how people felt listened to.

A panel with commissioning representatives from the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Greenwich Carers Centre and Oxleas service directors, Jane Wells and Iain Dimond then responded to the issues arising from the table discussions during the day.

A whole range of issues were discussed, including that professionals should listen more; why do carers have to complain to get things done?; respite nurses need better training; there should be specialist training for staff re autism and dementia; carers require more training such as moving and handling, first aid; how to get benefits and where to go; how many respite breaks can a carer have each year and how can I be assured around quality of respite care?

The event concluded with the cutting of a cake, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Carers Movement in Greenwich.

Anna Chan, trust Carers’ lead said “It was a successful event for both carers and professionals; it enabled carers to obtain information on services available to them locally and it enabled professionals to hear carers' views and find out what would help them most.”

Published on 14th June 2013