Centacare can support carers
I am a fulltime carer for my wife Christine. I recently came into contact with the Family and Carer Mental Health Program which is run by Centacare. This organisation provides support for those of us who are carers and friends living with sufferers of mental illness. Support is provided by way of courses such as Art, and morning teas. There are other services available as well as these.
I have been a carer for about 10 years and I have had some long periods of very intense caring. I did not know until recently that the Centacare program existed. Had I been aware there was a support organisation for myself, I am sure it would have eased the situation I was in.
I recently attended the beginning of an art course arranged by Centacare. I have always been an admirer of good art and I found it very interesting to see some of the methods used to create a painting. The course still has some time to run and I am hoping to develop some skill in illustrating. I have always wanted to be able to draw pencil sketches to enhance some of the stories I write. With this course, it is not only the time involved with the course once a month that gives us a break, the long-term benefit, as I see it, is to find a peaceful place, as time permits, to sit quietly and paint a landscape, a portrait or anything else that may take our fancy. Once acquired, it is a skill we can enhance as time passes and it is a new challenge to ease our minds of the everyday pressures of caring. There is no charge for the course and those of us who attended were given the necessary items we needed at no charge.
I have also attended a morning tea arranged by Centacare and held here in Cowra, at a local café. There was a table made available to sit about 12 people, but only two carers turned up. I found this very disappointing as I expected to be able to talk to other carers and perhaps exchange ideas and generally talk about our situations. Our local Centacare contact, Kathryn, was there with a colleague and we had a most enjoyable two hours with tea, coffee, sandwiches and scones provided by Centacare.
There are a lot of carers in Cowra and Centacare is working very hard to reach out to these people. My purpose in writing is to encourage people, as a layman and an experienced carer, to contact Centacare, find out about services they offer and come to the courses and morning teas. I was president of a support organisation for 10 years, and, once a month, we had a support meeting where we sat around in a circle and discusses our situation and exchange ideas. I had as many as 30 or more people come to these meetings. After our meetings, we all shared an afternoon tea where many strong friendships developed.
In closing, I would like to encourage the carers in the Cowra district to contact Kathryn, Kathy or Els on (02) 6393 1900. The more people who use this service lessens the chance of losing it through lack of interest. Most importantly, this is a chance for all of us to create new bonds, learn new skills and give ourselves a break. Be kind to yourselves and call Centacare.
– John McFarlane, Cowra.