The Escapists provide activities and respite for women carers in Enniskillen. They are using their grant to run Me Time, a project giving women carers time away from their caring responsibilities.
Me Time works with women beyond their role as carers. They allow space for women to be themselves – not mum, not daughter, not partner, not carer. It’s a chance to reconnect and find themselves again, which has a long-lasting, positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
How is it People Led?
Before they made their application for a People and Communities grant, the Escapists brought around 35 carers from different backgrounds together to discuss the main issues they face and what support would be right for them. Together, these women identified their key issues as carers, and Me Time has been designed in direct response to this.
Clare McGovern, from the Escapists, explains: “The main problems they identified included low income, high levels of stress, and isolation. They wanted to increase their coping skills, their confidence and to get out and about. So the entire project is based around their needs.
We meet at times that suit them and keep the meetings regular and short, so they can get someone to cover their caring responsibilities. They get a break from caring and have “time for me” - space to be themselves and do activities chosen by them – such as arts and crafts, walks, trips to the museum and a respite residential.”
How is it Connected?
The Escapists have strong links with the Health and Social Care Trust, and many members are referred from the Trust to join. They also have connections with local support groups for people with disabilities, brain injuries or long-term illness. By being aware of other groups in their area who are working in a similar area, the Escapists are able to work together with them and direct members towards other available help.
The Escapists also have connections with Erne Carers, a local group which supports carers aged over 60. Erne Carers attended the consultation and because of this they were able to make sure Me Time didn’t duplicate anything already being done by Erne Carers. It also meant the Escapists heard the voices and ideas of as many carers in the area as possible.
How is it Strengths Based?
Much of the Escapists’ strength comes from its own members. Members come from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and experiences. This means if someone is having difficulty, the chances are high that someone else in the group has been in the same position and is able to give advice and support from a place of real understanding.
For Clare, sharing knowledge between group members is crucial to the project’s success. “It’s brilliant to bring people together - they get support, learn from each other and share advice,” she says. “It helps them in their care role if they are more resilient. It’s great to see them bond together and as they become more confident, give back support to others.”