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Due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, our face-to-face Carer Support Groups are currently suspended. For more information on any virtual events please contact your local Carer Support Manager.
Support for family carers is at the heart of why we exist and one way that we deliver on this is through community based carer groups around the country. Family Carers Ireland facilitated in excess of 100 carer groups in 2019.
In addition to providing opportunities for peer support and carer engagement, the groups offer a forum for FCI to listen to the voice of carers, allowing us to respond to them in real time. They also play a vital role in promoting the contributions of family carers within society and bringing their issues to both policymakers and the general community.
In 2018, we reviewed how these groups were structured and in late 2019, we implemented a series of changes to ensure that carers accessing any of our support groups were receiving the right level of support for their needs.
As we continue to develop the new group structure, our goal is to connect with even more carers across the country, regardless of their specific caring role.
Each bespoke group is based on the unique needs and interests identified locally by our Carer Support Managers and the family carers they liaise with which allows them the opportunity to engage with others in a way that is most suited to them.
Support groups provide the opportunity for carers to come together, share their experiences and knowledge and learn from one another in a safe, non-judgemental, peer-led setting. Through support groups, carers experience a sense of community, empowerment, improved mental and emotional well-being, reduced feelings of social isolation and increased confidence in their own strengths and abilities.
Activity groups are less structured and aim to bring carers together to participate in an activity of interest. Walking, meditation, choir, knitting and painting are only a few examples of the variety of activities being offered around the country. The informal nature of activity groups allows for members to join and leave easily, while providing support in a less direct manner which can be more appealing to some carers.
Special interest groups are formed when a group of carers identify a local issue they wish to come together to address, such as lobbying to increase the availability of secondary school placements for children with additional needs or to fundraise for a specific service needed in the area. These groups empower carers to self-advocate and support them to influence public policy for family carers locally and nationally. As we continue to develop the new group structure, our goal is to connect with even more carers across the country, regardless of their specific caring role.