It’s been 16 months since the doors were forced to close on Carer Support Wiltshire’s face-to-face carer cafes and support groups. The charity have been delighted in recent weeks to welcome carers back for a cuppa, cake and a chat at venues all across Wiltshire.
Mary Tuck is a volunteer who helps to run the café in Corsham, held every third Thursday of the month at the Methuen Arms. She said:
“The closing of the carers cafes was sad for the carers as the cafes were lively and buzzed with conversation. For me, volunteering continued with regular telephone calls to carers. This is a welcome step towards getting back to normality.
“I couldn’t have wished for our first café to have gone better. We kept numbers low and all could sit around a circular table. The conversation flowed for the whole time.”
Carer Support Wiltshire runs the cafes to give those people who care for someone the opportunity to meet with others who are in a similar situation to their own. Being a carer can be an isolating experience and carers may spend a lot of time at home if the person they care for has a disability or illness that makes it difficult for them to go out.
Vince Danaher is Carer Support Wiltshire’s Volunteer Manager. He said:
“We’ve had to wait for the right time to reopen because many of our carers are looking after someone who is vulnerable.
“Although volunteers have been regularly checking in with carers during the lockdowns and we have run regular online meet-ups, it’s not the same as being able to get out of the house and meet people face-to-face. It’s been lovely to see familiar faces and new ones too at the cafes.”
As well as cafes for adult carers, Carer Support Wiltshire runs meet-ups for parent carers and also young adult carers.
Young adult carers met for the first time since the first lockdown in Trowbridge earlier this month. Andrea James. Young Adult Carer Support Worker said:
“Many had been so nervous about coming. They were worried about meeting up and some were suffering with social anxiety. We did everything we could to make them feel comfortable.
“I honestly think it was the most successful café we have ever had. We laughed so much and shared the bad times, but celebrated the good times.”
The next Chippenham based Carer Support cafe is 10.30am -12.00pm on the 16th August at the Angel Hotel, Market Pl, Chippenham SN15 3HD.
If you are an unpaid carer and interested in finding out more about carer cafes and support groups, as well as other activities, call 0800 181 4118 or visit carersupportwiltshire.co.uk/whats-on.