Padam Shrestha is the Executive Director of LEADS Nepal who are one of our project partners. Established in 2009, LEADS strives to build inclusive communities through a community development approach which enables people living with mental illness to realise their basic rights. As well as working with people living with mental illness, since 2014 LEADS has also been working closely with the carers who support them.

Padam recently spoke with us about his role and the work he does for carers. Here is what he had to say:

Tell us about your role and how you support carers?

Padam: I am responsible for developing, leading and overseeing the day-to-day management of the Carers Project. This is a varied role which involves creating new services to support carers, monitoring the quality of our service delivery, helping carers plan for their future and offering information on other services and opportunities that could enrich the lives of carers.

Why do you think it important that carers in your region receive the support that they need?

Padam: In the regions of Baglung and Myagdi, 97% of carers and their families live below the poverty line (Carers Worldwide Baseline Survey 2014) which is a far higher percentage than that among the general population. Prior to our intervention, carers of people with mental illness or disabilities in Nepal were excluded from mainstream society and received no support or respite.

What changes have been made to the lives of the carers you support?

Padam: Our work has been successful in bringing changes to the lives of carers by improving their mental health, promoting their social inclusion and reducing poverty amongst carers through the use of the Carers Worldwide Model. We have also been successful in assisting carers with setting up Self-Help groups, Carers Associations and Carers Cooperatives that operate throughout village, cluster and district levels. Carers Associations have been successful in obtaining government resources (funds and training opportunities) which have been used to support the wider caring community.

What hopes do you have for the future of the carers who you support?

Padam: The Carers Associations and Carers Cooperatives are still young but they are determined to develop , having coped well with the many challenges they have faced so far. I want these organisations to continue to grow and be successful at representing the wider caring community. I hope in the future that we will be able to establish regional and national level associations where we can advocate for policy change in favour of carers nationwide.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us regarding carers and your work?

Padam: We have learned that the Carers Worldwide Model works well in the Nepalese context. While implementing the model, there are significant changes we have observed. One such change has been an increase in the percentage of carers earning an income – from 20% in 2014 to 75% in 2017, with a corresponding increase in households living above the poverty line from only 13% in 2014 to 83% in 2017.

We would like to take this opportunity to say that we are incredibly grateful and proud of all the work Padam and his team at LEADS do for carers. If you would like to find out more about the work of LEADS, check out their Facebook page here.