Part 1 Dark days become lighter…
I have a son with a learning disability and autism; he is 46, so I have been an unpaid carer for 46 years and counting. I ran my own businesses for over 25 years until I retired. The darkest time in our lives was when we discovered he had a problem. The nursery said they thought he had a mental problem. We cried all weekend. Suddenly we didn’t recognise our two-year old son and thought about all the things he would never do.
Over time those dark days became lighter. Our son turned it around and showed us what he could do. He became a well-known and trusted person after he moved to a new school called Oakfield (formerly Shepherd’s school) for children with learning disabilities in Nottingham. This school helped him to grow and to be himself, turning everything negative to positive. This helped us as parents and they listened to us as carers for the first time in our lives.
I got into volunteering because I needed to get the best care for my son. Along the way I found out there was lots of people in a similar situation. I wanted to help them too because I felt I could make a difference in their lives. I have a passion for health and wellbeing including mental health. This passion has been put into volunteering across organisations and carers groups for over 20 years. It started out part-time then full-time when I retired ten years ago.
I wear a collection of hats, bestowed on me by volunteering using a health and mental health perspective. An unpaid carer’s perspective adds to this. After attending over 150 meetings each year, I became frustrated. I felt things were not moving fast enough to cope with the information and support unpaid carers were crying out for. I looked for something I could do to help and over time I developed the idea of a free Carers Roadshow in 2012. Seeing information leaflets gathering dust in city and county council offices; all offering information for unpaid carers that no one knew about, formed a vision in my mind. I needed to form a platform, a stage for this information and take this stage to the local community where unpaid carers go naturally. My vision was a free travelling conference of information that offered one to one talks with stallholders who were knowledgeable about where to signpost carers for help.
So, with my usual style, (if you don’t ask you won’t get), I asked for some of the leaflets from 12 carer service providers and asked them to nominate a staff member to represent their organisation on the stalls to give out leaflets and to talk to anyone who wanted to know more. These chats started the process and meant that unpaid carers were referred or signposted to the help they needed. And so it began….
Trevor Clower – Unpaid Carer – Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Unsung Hero Oscar HolderNottingham City Clinical Commissioning Group’s Patients Leader Volunteer NHS England’s Patients Representative Volunteer.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
Join in the conversation with Trevor on Twitter @trevorclower
In Part 2: How Trevor went from the drawing board to sponsorship of the Carers Roadshows. Trevor is a big fan of using community venues. From Libraries to Community Centres and Health Centres, it’s where carers can be found. It also provides a place to meet other carers and to find out how to get help. Trevor also speaks about how his life as a Dad and carer has changed over the years. His 2017 programme can be seen below. What an achievement!