It is estimated that there are now about 12,000 unpaid carers in Southend alone, and whilst caring for a loved one can be rewarding, it can also be a demanding and stressful responsibility that takes up a large amount of your personal time.
As part of the Southend Carers' Hub, Trust Links offer counselling and listening support to unpaid carers and a range of peer support activities that have both social and therapeutic benefits. The groups invite carers to come together for support, friendship and a chance to explore new interests, and are a valuable resource for many unpaid carers in Southend.
John previously attended another carers support group, but when it was closed, many carers were left without support and guidance. Trust Links was there for John and other carers by providing relaxing and social activities, giving them somewhere to turn.
John attends the meditation group which has proven to be one of the most popular activities and is in high demand, in fact, many of the attendees wish there were more sessions being held!
The meditation group helps relieve the carers of their stresses and find emotional and mental calmness, John explained "I think meditation is beneficial to anybody because it helps you to ground yourself, to step back from the trauma of issues that can be troubling”.
For carers, finding a balance between caring and time to look after your own wellbeing can be a challenge that leaves many feeling guilty, exhausted and stressed. Now John understands the importance of self-care alongside caring for a loved one. He said: "Some people might think I’m neglecting the person I care for. But in actual fact sometimes going out is the right thing to do. People looking at you from the outside might misjudge you.” But at Trust Links, John is not judged. Peer support groups like the meditation group are vital to enable carers to meet others with similar experiences, form connections and get advice and support relevant to them.
Practising meditation has enabled John to find peace and calmness whenever he needs it, utilising what he has learnt in his everyday life "I think there are certain things that you incorporate into your lifestyle that are helpful and I think the time spent on this is beneficial.”
He continued: "The fact that you go into a different part of the mind [in meditation] is respite from all the other things that are going on…it takes you out of the prison of a difficult situation.”
Another member of the group told us, "It’s our sanctuary. You just go blank, and it’s the only time I get to do that”.
In addition to meditation, John has also benefitted from some of the other groups held by Trust Links which help him unwind and maintain good mental and emotional wellness. These groups are run by Trust Links’ REACH Recovery College, and enabled John to learn to manage his stresses in everyday life. "I have done the mindfulness stress reduction based course at Trust Links which was quite helpful. This is another angle on something which I think can be considered to be universally beneficial because it helps one to live in the present, and keep one’s feet on the ground when the circumstances of the life that we face are very difficult”.
Visit our Carers Page to learn more about accessing carers support and find groups that could help you or a loved one. Alternatively, call us on 01702 213 134 to talk to a member of our team.