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NSFT sets up new group to support carers in east and central Suffolk

​A new support group has been set up to support people in east and central Suffolk who are caring for loved ones with mental health conditions.

The Carers’ Drop-in Group meets 10am – 12.30pm on the second Tuesday of every month in the Robert Owen Room in the East of England Co-op Education Centre in Fore Street, Ipswich. Free parking is available.

It has been established by carers’ leads working for the Central Suffolk, Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal Integrated Delivery Teams (IDTs) run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

Any unpaid carer looking after loved ones with conditions such as depression, anxiety or schizophrenia is invited to drop-in at any point during the monthly meetings.

Jay Chandler, Carers’ Lead for Ipswich IDT, said: “Unpaid carers supporting people affected by chronic and enduring mental illness rarely get a break from their caring role.

“One of the main purposes of this new group is to give these carers some respite and ‘me time’ by providing an opportunity to meet other carers and carers’ leads, and to share experiences over a cup of tea or coffee.

“Being a carer is a very important role but it can also be very lonely. This new group gives carers plenty of time to simply drop in for an informal chat with other people in a similar position to themselves.

“We also offer support and information on a range of subjects and want to ensure carers know their rights and are valued, respected and appreciated.”

A carers’ summer tea party was held last month (August) to officially launch the Carers’ Drop-in Group, and was attended by more than 15 carers and NSFT Chair Gary Page.

Previously, each IDT, which is responsible for the co-ordinated delivery of community mental health services in its locality, held monthly carers’ support groups – at Woodbridge Library, at the Red Gables community wellbeing hub in Stowmarket and at the East of England Co-op Education Centre in Ipswich. The age of the carers ranged from 19 up to carers in their 70s.

Mrs Chandler said that the Ipswich group was particularly well-attended and carers from the different IDTs are happy and prepared to travel into Ipswich, which is why a pan-East Suffolk group has now been set up.

NSFT is able to support carers whose first language is not English by providing carers with an interpreter during the Carers’ Drop-in Group sessions.

* Anyone who would like more information about the Carers’ Drop-in Group should contact Jay Chandler, Ipswich IDT, 01473 341100; Neil Broadway, Suffolk Coastal IDT, 01473 279200; or Central Suffolk IDT, 01449 745200.

Caption (from left to right): Catalina Binda, carer; Dawn Barker and Kate Hinchliff from Suffolk Family Carers (a charity which signposts carers to the Carers’ Drop-in Group); Graham Angell, carer; David Coleman, carer; and Jay Chandler, Carers’ Lead for Ipswich IDT.

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