This week Carers Lewisham held a series of events in celebration of national Carers Week, with its theme of making caring visible, valued and supported.

On Wednesday, our stand in Sainsbury’s Forest Hill not only helped us raise awareness of the role of unpaid carers, but was also a great opportunity to meet new people with caring responsibilities who weren’t aware of the support we can offer.  Meeting so many people in person has hopefully given them confidence to get in touch with us in future.

On Thursday, over 30 people attended our celebration event with a series of sessions led by carers, each showcasing their amazing talents.  Activities included a poetry reading about carers by Christine; a series of live music sessions with Pauline – including an emotional song she had written herself about caring for her mother; and dress-making skills with Barbara, with the finished results modelled by our Employment Advisor Sonia.

We also played ‘human bingo’ which got carers talking to each other and finding out facts about one another.  As well as lunch, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the cake made by Hilda specially for the occasion.  The absolute highlight of the event was Jaycee (on Twitter as @thesoulnurse) who stunned everyone with her incredible spoken word poetry about the ups and downs of caring, and what a privilege it is to give back to her mum what her mum has given to her.  Jaycee also led a laughter yoga workshop which everyone found a huge stress reliever.

Our final event on Friday was a series of informative presentations, including one from the Green Doctor, a charity that offers free and impartial energy advice to help Londoners, stay warm, save money and live greener, including highlighting free resources people can access to help reduce energy bills.  Something that is much needed as energy prices continue to rise.  Attendees also heard from Tristan Brice, Associate Director, Community Support and Care, Lewisham Integrated Commissioning Team about the Council’s current consultation on its new Carers Implementation Plan and how this will affect future services – something that engendered a lively discussion.  Representatives from South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM) also took part in discussions and were on hand with information when needed.

A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this year’s Carers Week so much fun, including Sainsbury’s store manager Sandra and the staff who supported us, all our speakers at our event on Friday, and – most importantly – all our amazing carers who led groups and activities on Thursday and, of course, all those who took part.