Carers Focus Newsletter: December 2019

Dear Reader,

Thank you for taking the time to read through this December issue of our newsletter; we hope you enjoy! For those of you who are unfamiliar with our services, we are a local charity who has been providing advocacy services to unpaid / family carers in the city of Edinburgh and the Lothians for over 20 years. A carer may be a family member, partner or friend who supports someone who has mental or physical health difficulties, dementia, or a learning disability. Carers may or may not live with the person they support, and they may or may not carry out physical tasks. Carers do not have to be in receipt of Carers Allowance in order to use our services. Our team also provides advocacy to carers where the person they care for may not have a diagnosis nor wish to access services. Edinburgh Carers Council services are free and confidential. Alongside individual advocacy, ECC also provides collective advocacy. We have a Carers Forum on a bimonthly basis where carers can get together to meet others in similar situations, discuss issues and work together to bring about change. For more info about our services, please give us a call on 0131 322 8480. Please remember to stay safe, warm and cosy this winter. Our next newsletter will be in Spring 2020!

Warm wishes,
Rachael & the ECC Team


Testimonial from a Carer who has used ECC Individual Advocacy Service

“I think I originally went to Edinburgh Carers Council looking for advice on how to cope with caring for my mentally ill daughter. I was at my wits end as her long standing health problems had once again taken a serious downturn. My life was an endless round of appointments, always hoping the next one would provide an answer (if I could get her to attend, that is). Everything was stress, worry and sleeplessness. When someone suggested the Carers Council, all I could talk about at first was my daughter and her seemingly insoluble difficulties. ECC turned the conversation around and for the first time for many years my own needs came into focus. For years all I had thought about was my daughter's needs; my own life was in tatters. The Carers Council took each of my many challenges and helped me to break them down into more manageable pieces. I had not realised that I was so tired and overwhelmed I could no longer tackle this huge build up of problems, or even think clearly. Years of dealing with my mentally ill daughter took all my attention and energy merely to avoid disaster and I had no inner resources left. My advocate helped me to contact the right people who could help with each problem (housing, my daughter’s health, finances and yes, my own health — both physical and mental). Meeting weekly and staying in touch by phone over the course of several months boosted my confidence and as each problem was matched with a solution I felt better and better. My daughter still has health problems, but thanks to the experience and kindness of Edinburgh Carers Council I can cope again. Not only am I a stronger and more effective carer, but once again I belong to a community.”

Many thanks to this carer who kindly wrote this testimonial for our newsletter. If you would like to do the same, please contact


Carers Forum Update — Next Forum: Thursday, 16 January 2020

Our next Carers Forum will be held on Thursday, 16 January, from 11am-2pm. An email reminder to Forum members will be sent out closer to the date. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to be, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to add you on. The venue will be our usual: the Links Room at our office building, Great Michael House (14 Links Place, EH6 7EZ).

The Carers Forum enables carers the opportunity to meet and look at information about current changes and developments within mental health, and to discuss and collectively address these issues and move them forward to make a difference. It is a comfortable and relaxed environment for carers to express their views and raise issues. It is also an opportunity for carers to meet others who may be in similar situations. The Forum is open to all carers supporting someone with mental health difficulties, dementia, acquired brain injury, autistic spectrum condition and learning disabilities from across Lothian. You do not need to be a member of ECC to attend. Lunch, tea & coffee is provided. For more information or to register your interest (for catering purposes) please get in touch by emailing


AGM 2019 — Friday, 22 November

Many thanks to all who joined us for our Annual General Meeting this year. We began the day with our guest speaker, Gordon Dodds (Planning and Commissioning Officer, Mental Health) from the Edinburgh Health & Social Care Partnership. Gordon updated us on the progress of Thrive, the mental health and wellbeing strategy for Edinburgh. We then moved forward with AGM business, hearing reports from our Chair Leah and Treasurer David. We then had our raffle draw; a big thank you to everyone who donated prizes and bought tickets for our AGM Raffle! Thanks to everyone, we managed to raise £444! Additionally, we are currently searching for carers to join our Board of Trustees. For more information, please get in touch with us by phoning our office on 0131 322 8480 or emailing


Peer Support in ECC & The Peer Collaborative Film

Edinburgh Carers Council is a member of The Peer Collaborative, a network of support for peer workers in Edinburgh. ECC has recently started a peer support service; we currently have two amazing peer support volunteers who are ready to begin work. Are you an unpaid carer who would benefit from peer support?

Peer support is the sharing of experiences between two people in a safe environment. Peer volunteers will not lecture you, give advice, or judge you. It is a mutual relationship where they are there to listen to you and draw from their own similar experiences to help provide emotional and practical support. It aims to help both those giving and receiving the support. Each experience is treated as equally important, which gives it a different dynamic to more traditional settings such as carers groups or counselling. Caring for someone with mental illness is often a lonely and isolating experience. With a peer support volunteer, a closer relationship can be formed.

Awareness around peer support is growing in the mental health community, and in order to continue to raise this awareness, The Peer Collaborative is in the process of releasing a 15- minute film. Our very own Alexis Thorpe is included in the film, speaking about her experiences as a carer and what inspired her to become a peer support volunteer for Edinburgh Carers Council. The full film is planned to premiere in February 2020, so watch this space! Once available, a link to the film will be posted on our Facebook page and website.

If you are interested in either becoming a peer support volunteer for ECC, or to refer yourself onto our peer support service, please get in touch by emailing or phoning our office on 0131 322 8480. We would love to have a chat with you and send along a bit more information.


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