Mind Yourself is a local charity that aims to help improve the health of Irish people living in London. The Arsenal Foundation has donated money to the charity’s Carers Group, which helps local carers relax and enjoy activities from arts and crafts to learning relaxation techniques. Here, one of the beneficiaries, Angela Clare, describes her experiences.
“I first made contact with Mind Yourself in the summer of 2013 at an event organised by Islington Carers Hub. At the time I was still reeling from the news of my mother Liz being diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was feeling overwhelmed by the major life changes this brought to me and my family.
“That summer was made so much easier to cope with because I was involved in events, groups and other experiences that Mind Yourself had organised. I remember in particular two walks, one along the Regents Canal and one on Hampstead Heath. After spending many months in various hospitals waiting to find out if my mother would ever recover, being outdoors in good company was truly a lifeline.
“I also became part of the monthly Wednesday Carers Group, which was, and still is, wonderful and humbling in equal measure. It’s great to be in the company of other people who have similar responsibilities and worries. While the Carers Group can’t change the day-to-day responsibilities we have, it does give us a space to chat about how we cope and it’s really helpful to hear how others manage and get on with things.
“Just as important is the social activity we do – everything from laughter yoga to art to meditation – just for the pure fun and enjoyment of it.
“During Carers Week in June we all trooped off to the Irish Embassy for a reception hosted by Irish ambassador Dan Mulhall to honour the contribution made by unpaid carers to the Irish community. As well as the Mind Yourself group, there were carers from south-east London and it was a fantastic occasion.
“Since 2013 I have continued to attend various groups and events including Share It Saturdays, the Mind Yourself choir, meditation, a range of talks and discussions and most recently the Tuesday craft sessions. It is the amazing community that is Mind Yourself that helped me to survive 2013 and to get the much needed emotional, social and cultural support.
“I simply cannot describe clearly enough what a big difference it has made to my life.”