'Caring for a loved one is a privilege,' writes Tina English, Director of the charity Embracing Age, 'but it can also be incredibly isolating and exhausting, even more so during lockdowns when normal activities for carers and their loved ones are on hold.'
Tina describes the way in which she is helping carers to keep in touch with others in similar situations:
'That’s why we started Carers Connected, a weekly opportunity for carers to chat and pray with other carers over Zoom. The widespread use of Zoom during the pandemic means that carers can now build connections with others from across the country. Carers Connected started as a pilot in January 2021, and it has been a huge privilege to journey with carers over the last few months.
'One lady told us it was the first time she had opened up with other Christians about caring for her husband, as at church she just tells people she is fine. Carers have told us that it is a gently welcoming oasis in their week. One described it as "a unique forum to share vulnerably our feelings, stresses and to encourage and pray for each other in our caring roles. Great to chat, unwind and even laugh together." They have valued the opportunity to chat and pray with other Christian carers as there is a shared, often unspoken, understanding of the challenges and experiences unique to the caring role.
'With lockdown easing, carers have asked us to continue with the group as it is so easy for them to access and does not involve travelling or finding a sitter. We are keen to open it up to other carers, but we need some volunteers to be session hosts. This involves hosting a Zoom session with another volunteer of about 10 people and facilitating conversation and a time of prayer. You can see a full role description here. Full training will be provided and we have pencilled in a volunteer host workshop on Thursday 17 June at 10.00 am to 12.00 noon hosted by Charlotte Evans and myself, Tina English.'