In 2015, 156 carers support groups were formed. For the first time, carers were able to meet together to discuss common difficulties and concerns, providing each other with mutual support and building their emotional resilience.
“The carers group is a lifeline for me. Life is hard, my problems are still there but now I have a group of friends who I know will listen and support me.” Rashida Begum, who cares for her three children with muscular dystrophy.
We facilitate the training of local doctors and health staff to ensure they consider the physical and mental health needs of carers. We also develop local counselling services, which provide an accessible and confidential service to carers.
These vital health services, which did not exist before in our project areas, are now available to over 5,000 carers.
Many of the carers with whom we work have never had the chance for a break from caring. Their caring responsibilities leave them with little or no time for social activities or time on their own. Our short breaks programmes enable them to take time out from the daily routine, do something for themselves and return to caring refreshed and re-energised.
So far, 125 carers have benefited from a short break.
Due to caring responsibilities, carers are often unable to go to work and many households lose two incomes: that of the person affected and that of their carer. 93% of households with whom we work are living below the poverty line when they enter our programmes. In the case of child carers, dropping out of school is often the only option, which has a huge effect on their future life chances, educationally and socially.
We enable carers to pursue livelihoods activities that can co-exist with their caring responsibilities. We also work with local government officers to ensure reasonable adjustments, allowing carers to access available schemes and services. In 2015, 617 carers were able to earn an income, bringing their families back above the poverty line. “This has given me confidence. I can earn money to support my family and buy my husband’s medicine.” Phulu Kharga who cares for her husband who has epilepsy.
We train local teachers to support school attendance amongst child carers and in 2015, over 200 children were able to return to school.
The establishment of community caring centres is one way adult and child carers can re-enter the world of employment, training and education. Locally run, these centres provide a safe place for disabled and mentally ill relatives to spend their day, whilst their carer is at work or school. In 2015-2016, 9 of these centres are being set up.
Advocacy is a key feature of our work. Our carers groups give carers the opportunity to understand their rights and advocate for the services that will improve their lives and the quality of care they are able to provide. We are harnessing their collective voice through the formation of district level Carers Associations, which will bring the voice of carers to the fore, both locally and regionally. “We are one group, on one path, moving towards our own development.” Carers from the Sirivenella Carers Group.
In 2015, eight cluster level carers groups were set up, made up of carer representatives from local carers groups. In 2016, district level Carers Associations will start to be registered in India and Nepal.
In 2015, Carers Worldwide carried out consultations with a wide range of carers looking after persons with disabilities, persons with a mental illness and the elderly. These consultations took place in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. We are currently developing programmes to meet the needs of these carers and pilot projects are planned with three new partner organisations throughout 2016.
With your support, we can continue to impact the lives of carers and those for whom they care.