New help available for older family carers
8:00am Thursday 19th April 2012 in Voluntary
Many parents in their late 70s or 80s are still caring for their disabled sons and daughters and can feel very isolated. Their big worry is what will happen when they are no longer around to support their relative.
Thanks to a grant from Comic Relief, Oxfordshire Family Support Network has begun setting up a support service for older family carers. This essential new service will be shaped by families, and will offer support through small local groups as well as information and support to plan well for the future.
Oxfordshire Family Support Network was set in 2007 up by two parents, Gail Hanrahan and Barbara Coles, whose sons have learning disabilities. It was funded originally through a grant from the Oxfordshire Learning Disability Partnership Board and became a registered charity in August 2011.
The network provides independent information, advice and support by families for families of people with learning disabilities.
Gail explains: “It’s a bit of a cliché but “knowledge is power”. I’m passionate about the work I do, which is all about getting a good life for people with learning disabilities by informing, inspiring and involving their families. I want others to see people with learning disabilities like my son Guy as people first, not ‘special’ or ‘disadvantaged’, but a lovely young man who has the same needs and rights as everyone else.”
Fellow project worker Jan Sunman, who also has a son with learning disabilities, agrees: “Some of the best support I have received has come from other families who have lived through the same challenges we have faced. They are ‘experts by experience’. By linking families through our network, we can share knowledge and support each other.”
The Network produces an e-mail bulletin, as well as holding workshops and information fairs for families for families and professionals.
There is also help from the Transition Support Service for families whose young people are moving from children‘s to adult services, and they have produced a book, Transition Matters, helping families to understand the process and sharing parent’s tips and experiences.
Visit www.oxfsn.org.uk to find out more about the work of Oxfordshire Family Support Network. To subscribe to the e-bulletin, or to become a member, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01865 369477.