Care for Carers Stepping Out Residential Short Breaks project began as a pilot over 15 years ago and has grown and developed over that time to the service it is now. It provides unpaid carers with a supported, organised, facilitated, structured and fun series of short residential breaks away from their caring situation and daily worries.
The breaks take place across a variety of settings (urban, rural and remote rural) and have a range of activity options and experiences for carers to take part in over the course of the break.
The main aim of the Stepping Out service is to provide an environment where unpaid carers can be supported to rest, recharge, have fun, spend quality time with other carers and staff members of Care for Carers. Building friendships, peer groups and strong relationships with staff. This means the carer is more likely to contact us as first point of contact if something occurs at home in the future.
The key aims of the service are to address the social isolation and poor mental health and wellbeing that unpaid carers can experience. We tailor each break so that it can bring some therapeutic, educational, social and fun activities, while always giving the carers the option to go off and do their own thing. They can pick and choose the activities they want to take part in.
The majority of carers taking part in any given break are usually female but we do also hold Women Only short residential breaks which incorporate more stress management, therapeutic and relaxation, and social activities. This separate break is particularly important for women from different cultures and religions who would not be able to share accommodation that had mixed gender groups within it.
The Stepping Out programme of Short Residential Breaks has a proven track record now of delivering on some key outcomes for carers. The programme is well evaluated and monitored and over 75% of the carers taking part tell us that as a result of taking part in the breaks they experience;
- Improved mental health and wellbeing
- Reduced feelings of social isolation
- Have increased learning and learnt something new
- Have made new friends
- Have had a positive and fun experience
Over 70% of the carers that take part in our Stepping Out programme have no other short break in the year that is purely for themselves. 30% of the carers also have long term health conditions themselves. For many of the carers they would be to access this type of break without our support.
Without the support in kind we receive from collaborators and partners we could not spread our funding as far as we do. We have had venues donated for us to use their service, catering provided and transport supported in order to take more carers away each year. We have some themed work, such as the Astronomy breaks, and we have received generous support from professionals in that field to support our events and activities. We are always keen to find new partners, and yes new funders if possible, but spreading the word about the work we do is important too.