Reaching out to Carers Innovation fund Evaluation Report: Carers Café @ Listening Ear
The aim of this project was to set up a 'Carers Café' to provide an informal opportunity for networking, peer support and signposting to various support services including the Listening Ear Counselling Service.
The idea was that the project would be supported by attendance at the weekly 'Carers Café' of a support worker from Sandwell Adult Services (Carers Support). After initial publicity/launch it became apparent that, due to staffing issues, the Department could not commit to offering this level of time commitment and there was no particular benefit in carers coming into the Café (which already provides a very welcoming and positive context for individuals under stress) at that particular time in the week. For this reason the 'Carers Café' never really 'took off'. We have not, however, given up on the concept. We are currently in talks with one of the support workers about the possibility of an existing group moving locations to our centre which, it is felt, is much more suitable for their needs.
However, the funding received from the DH was essentially for The Listening Ear Counselling Service. As a result of the working relationship we now have with the Carers Support Dept. within Sandwell Council, and a general raised level of awareness of the needs of carers and how our service might offer support to them, we have found that we have received many more referrals for clients who are carers. These referrals have come from various sources, from within the Department but also self-referrals from those who have attended or even just seen the posters for the 'Carers Café'.
I could offer a number of Case Studies of clients who have been helped to continue their demanding roles as carers and others who have been supported through the process of transitioning their loved one into residential care. Although the 'Carers Café' aspect of this project was not as successful as we'd hoped, the wider aim was to be able to offer free and confidential counselling support to carers and this has certainly been, and continues to be, fulfilled.
(Mrs) Lesley Nicholson - Lead Counsellor, Listening Ear.