This Carers Week Carers in Bedfordshire celebrate seven years of their flagship Carers Café service at the Bedford Café, held at the Goldington Centre.
Cheryl Dean cares for her father who has Parkinson’s Disease. She discovered Carers in Bedfordshire through her parents and she and her family regularly visit the Carers’ Cafes. Cheryl says, “The cafes are great because they give carers the escapism to be with other people who can empathise with their daily lives as carers. At the same time, the people they care for can be with them in a safe, welcoming environment.” Cheryl brought cake and other refreshments from her employer, Sainsbury’s, to celebrate the special Carers Week anniversary.
This year’s special cake was reminiscent of the first Carers Café, held in 2009. The cafes were the brainchild of Carers in Bedfordshire’s founder, Yvonne Clark. She recognised that many carers were not able to attend the carer groups the charity run because they were not able to leave the person they care for. She devised the café format – where the person with care needs can attend too, and both carer and cared-for can access much-appreciated haircuts, massages and other
therapies to promote their wellbeing - secured funding, and the Carers Cafes were born.
Carers in Bedfordshire now runs carers cafes monthly in Biggleswade, Houghton Regis, Eaton Bray, Leighton Buzzard and most recently Flitwick. Over 300 carers regularly attend with the person they care for to enjoy the company of other carers over coffee and cake, have a haircut, massage or foot treatment, and receive support from Carers in Bedfordshire staff on anything that will help them in their caring role, from managing stress to planning for the future.
Bill Simpkins, 75, cares for his wife who has mental health problems. Bill has been going to the carers café in Bedford since it first opened and is now one of the regulars. He says, “When I first went along I didn’t know anyone but as time has gone on I have got to know people. We all look out for each other and the people we care for but at the same time love seeing new people come in and being able to help them. The numbers of people who come along depends very much on the time of year and even the weather. The cafes are friendly, informative, good for my wellbeing and very convenient because I can bring my wife with me and not have to worry about her.”
As well as caring for his wife, Bill is one of Carers in Bedfordshire’s over 100 volunteers, who help in every area of the charity’s work. Bill coordinates the Bedford Monday morning Carers Group.
Carers Week is being celebrated this year from the 6th to the 12th June. It is an annual campaign coordinated by Carers UK to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. Carers in Bedfordshire are coordinating 23 events across Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire from cream teas at carers groups, a sponsored half term walk for young carers, to the formal opening of the Carers Lounge at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital. This represents a record number of Carers Week events for the charity.
Press Release Date: June 2016