Self Care for Carers: Group offers respite and promotes positive social and mental wellbeing

Newtownards-based Social Enterprise Inspiring Yarns has launched their latest project aimed at active carers: Self Care For Carers.

Running weekly across Northern Ireland, the project provides a space of respite for carers and promotes positive social and mental wellbeing.

Inspiring Yarns, Director of Project Claire Anketell, said: “We know how difficult that last few years have been for Carers, with some of the services they relied on not having resumed since Covid forced them to close.

“Carers across Northern Ireland are facing increased pressures on their own mental health and well-being, and we felt our services would be of benefit to this particular group of people.

Newtownards-based Social Enterprise Inspiring Yarns has launched their latest project aimed at active carers: Self Care For Carers.

“This project is for those in current caring roles; to have the opportunity to meet others in similar circumstances to reduce the isolation they may feel, and to allow for some time out to support their own mental health.”

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As well as weekly crafting sessions, carers will also be able to avail of self help techniques and networking amongst other relevant services in their local area.

“We will support carers in this way via Zoom,” added Claire. “There will be sessions of relaxation, mindfulness and self advocacy, which people can dip in and out of depending on what they’re interested in.

Running weekly across Northern Ireland, the project provides a space of respite for carers and promotes positive social and mental wellbeing.

“We hope that carers will be able to find others who understand the pressures and form natural support networks with likeminded people.”

Founded by Claire, Janice Moore and Tracey Whitehead in February 2021, the social enterprise is aimed at fostering the skills necessary to improve or maintain mental health through heritage based crafts and collaborative working.

“As founders who all have lived experience of poor mental health, we know the impacts it can have on all aspects of life,” revealed Claire. “All the Directors and members of our management committee met through a shared passion for yarn-based crafts - we know first hand the social and positive mental health benefits of these hobbies.”

“We’ve found lasting friendships, sustained self-employment and grown in confidence in our abilities as we continue developing Inspiring Yarns as an organisation.

Inspiring Yarns, Director of Project Claire Anketell, said: “We know how difficult that last few years have been for Carers, with some of the services they relied on not having resumed since Covid forced them to close.

“On a personal level, we have all found our yarn hobbies have given us a distraction, a sense of achievement, and something to improve our social interactions.

“For example, planning future knitting or crocheting projects gives a focus, something to work towards. It reminds and allows us to slow down and break bigger tasks into smaller chunks.”

The tactile nature of yarn-based crafts has been found to have notable benefits to those with social anxiety, as most projects are transportable and incorporates all five senses.

“For those with social anxiety, it provides a source of conversations and removes the worry of what to talk to others in the group about, and people understand that a person may not be talking as much if they’re engrossed in what they’re working on.

“It really is one of the best forms of distraction. We usually have multiple projects going one at one time, some more complicated than others depending on how you’re feeling. It really is a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.”

Currently, Self Care For Carers is available in Dungannon, Portadown, Coleraine, Enniskillen, Newtownards and Newtownabbey.

With pre-booking for all activities essential, anyone with current caring responsibilities is invited to join in. To view sessions and book online, go to http://www.inspiringyarns.co.uk/events