Carers Focus Newsletter: July 2020

Dear everyone,

We hope you and your loved ones are all doing okay, and are safe and well. As we move into Phase 3 of the lockdown we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel! Our office remains closed for appointments, but we are still providing advocacy support over the telephone and through email. We are also able to provide support at Mental Health Tribunals. Additionally, our volunteer peer workers are available for anyone who is interested in receiving peer support. To get in touch you can still ring our main office phone line, 0131 322 8480. You can also email us at the addresses listed below. 


Advocacy Worker Email Contacts

James Arthur (Transitions Advocacy Worker) —
Paul Flaherty (Advocacy Worker) —
Greig Irving
(Advocacy Worker) —
Ruth Rooney
(ECC Coordinator/Advocacy Worker) —

For general enquiries or to make a referral, please email
For information/resources, or if you have a query about our peer support service, please email Information & Resource Worker,


ECC Peer Support Service

Caring for someone with mental health difficulties can sometimes be a confusing, isolating and lonely experience. Speaking to someone who has been there themselves and is able to lend a listening ear can help. We have trained volunteer peer support workers available who are all carers or former carers themselves. Engaging in peer support is an opportunity to talk about your experiences, hear from someone who has been through similar circumstances, ask questions and help you work through what you’re feeling. Peer support volunteers will not lecture you, give advice or tell you what to do; they are here to listen to you and can provide both practical and emotional support. If you care for someone who has mental health difficulties such as dementia, depression/anxiety, an eating disorder, or acquired brain injury we can match you with one of our trained volunteers. To receive more information or to refer yourself (or someone else) to this service, please email or phone 0131 322 8480.


Carers Forum on Zoom: Thursday, 20 August 2020

We’re happy to announce that we will be hosting our first Carers Forum on Zoom on Thursday, 20th August 2020 from 12:30-2pm. We will have a guest speaker join us: Kathleen Taylor, Participation & Engagement Officer (Carer) at the Mental Welfare Commission. Kathleen will be talking to us about her work and how the Mental Welfare Commission has responded to Covid-19. She is also keen to hear about carers’ experiences during the pandemic.

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. If you haven’t attended a Forum before we will be happy to welcome you! The Carers Forum is a comfortable and relaxed environment for carers to express their own views and raise issues.

To register, please email Please note we’ll need your preferred email address to send the Zoom invitation to. If you aren't familiar with Zoom we can offer assistance to guide you through the basics. We look forward to seeing you there!


Pasda’s Listening Ears

Pasda, an organisation supporting family and carers of adults on the autism spectrum, received funding from Foundation Scotland to continue their pilot Connect and Chat telephone service. The new project called Listening Ears aims to support carers of autistic adults with regular, timely phone calls to ease loneliness and isolation. They currently have 6 part-time callers ready to phone carers of autistic adults to give support.

For more information about this service please email You can also view Pasda’s July newsletter on their website


Carers United #2

Carers United is an article written and created by Caro, carer and long-term member of Edinburgh Carers Council. The first issue of Carers United was published on the Edinburgh Carers Council website in April 2020. You can view it by clicking here.

A very big thank you to Caro for taking the time and effort to write these articles in hopes it will inspire others during these difficult times.

If you would also like to submit your own written piece for our next newsletter (due towards the end of this year) or for our website (anytime) please do get in touch with us by emailing We are always seeking carer contributions and to hear carers’ experiences; we’d be happy to hear from you!

Please continue reading onto the next page for the second issue of Carers United.


Carers United 2
Edinburgh, Lothian and Everywhere

Another big ‘Hello’ to you all who are united as Carers of Loved Ones who have serious mental health illnesses - and to those who have been following the Edinburgh Carer Council (ECC) web page and regular communications.

Since the first Carers United in April 2020, we remain facing many familiar and unfamiliar challenges - not only in looking after ourselves, but in caring for our loved ones within our family unit, or perhaps as part of an extended circle of friends and colleagues.

While times have moved on since the initial lockdown around 18 March 2020, we remain trying to cope as best we can with issues that we have never experienced before. In these extraordinary times, we are constantly being tested and stretched many ways in trying to do the best we can, in the wake of advice from many different sources. This advice may come via the Media, Westminster, the Scottish Parliament, Discussion Groups, Social Media e.g. Facebook or via Skype and Zoom - and from friends and family. We are united in perhaps finding that these varying sources may be confusing and worrying. We also may have doubts about what is right for both ourselves and our loved ones. All these doubts are normal and it is possible we may all feel this way in varying degrees – and becoming more anxious and concerned in the process.

I consider that the additional challenge we all currently experience is in trying to maintain and adapt to our changed circumstances and importantly - keeping our hopes and spirits up. I am certain that there will be many other views regarding our current key challenges.

This is where we can all help each other by being an active part of Carers United. For example, posting current concerns / topics on the ECC Website and inviting other views and comments. Sharing concerns about our lock-down experiences is a good way to help alleviate feelings of being excluded and isolated. At the very least it demonstrates that we may have shared experiences that we can use to support each other. Just a thought and perhaps worth a try.

It would be interesting if Carers were willing to share some of their challenges; fears; things that are helping them and keeping their spirits up (see Carers United 1). Remember that some observations and comments may be supported and others not. This is good, interesting and healthy and is as it should be.

I consider and observe that nothing of any consequence has been heard from Ministers of Mental Health (both in Westminster and Edinburgh), about how those who have serious mental health illnesses and their Carers are being / are to be helped and supported at this time and in the future.

This thought was uppermost in my mind when I spotted a book review by Kate Saunders (Times 27 June 2020) and summarise this below, hoping it may interest others as it did me - The book is called ‘The Fragments of My Father… A Memoir of Madness, Love and Being a Carer’ by Sam Mills. The author Sam is / was her father Edward’s Carer and she was motivated by her love for him, following her mother’s death.

I particularly liked her observation about Carers (edited by the Reviewer) as follows –

‘it is only recently that ‘carer’’ has become an official job description. ‘’ I can’t think of any other job’’ she writes, ‘’where someone defines your role by conferring its title on you, as though they are holding out a mould that you must fill.’’ Additionally, the Reviewer commented - ‘There are 6.5 million carers in Britain, looking after vulnerable spouses, parents and children, and saving the economy £132 billion every year. Without this invisible army, the NHS would collapse – yet carers are shockingly taken for granted, often condemned to grinding poverty and relentless exhaustion. As Mills was to discover, it is nearly impossible to combine caring for a loved one with any other kind of work’ (Times 27 June 2020).

We may discuss this at future Forums. I intend to buy this book as it also includes a study of two famous literary carers (men who cared for their ill wives) as I enjoy biographies and autobiographies.

Perhaps Carer United readers could advise on their favourite books during lockdown?

Hoping to see you soon at future Forums.
Wishing that all Carers United readers keep well and healthy.

— Carer Caro


Eric Liddell Centre Wellbeing Project

As part of the Eric Liddell Centre’s Wellbeing Project, additional online classes and resources are available to support carers during the current Covid-19 situation. The Wellbeing Project also aims to support people with disabilities. Available classes include: meditation, peer 2 peer, singing & music, mindfulness, art, Indian Dance Class, and Tai Chi & Qigong. If you’re interested in the Eric Liddell Centre’s new activities, please contact Music Development and Activities Coordinator, Chloe, at


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