Oxford Health Charity not only supports and enhances the experiences of Oxford Health patients and staff but also seeks to help improve the wellbeing of those caring for our service users. The charity team are pleased to share below just some of the ways in which we have been able to show our support for these inspirational individuals across the Trust.

Encouraging carers to take time out… 

Throughout 2023, we funded 12, FREE, one-hour, meditation sessions that were delivered online once a month across the Trust to family, friends and carers of our service users as well as to any staff members who are, themselves, carers. Organised by the Carers Lead for Oxford Health, and led by an experienced meditation instructor, these sessions provided an opportunity for those who spend their time caring for others to relax and unwind through guided meditation – helping them to stop for a moment to focus on their own health and wellbeing.

Some attendees shared their thoughts with us on these valuable sessions: 

Following the success of this first year of online meditation classes, approval is now being sought to support the delivery of another series of these charity-funded wellbeing sessions for 2024. 

Support During the Pandemic…

The Buckinghamshire Mental Health Services Carers Group was established as an online support service in 2020. Its aim was to reach out to carers and help them feel less isolated and alone at a time when all in-person carer support groups and activities across our communities had ceased due to the pandemic. This new Oxford Health service gave our mental health carers an online space to be able to talk to others, find friendship and access continued support.

During this challenging period, part of this support came in the form of online seasonal events in April and December. These occasions offered carers the chance to come together, albeit virtually, in a safe and welcoming environment – encouraging them to ‘switch off’ for a short time from their daily roles to socialise and enjoy a range of fun, creative activities. The charity team were pleased to support these events, which continued online until December 2022, through funding craft materials as well as gift hampers for the lucky quiz winners! 

Two members explained what the sessions have meant to them:

And as we’ve all returned to the ‘New Normal’!...

Following the subsequent relaxation of social distancing rules, the Buckinghamshire Mental Health Services Carers Group has since enjoyed a wide variety of in-person activities, ranging from ‘a catch-up over a cuppa’ to craft sessions, group walks and seasonal events.

With December often being a particularly difficult time of year for carers who support those with mental ill health, the charity has been delighted to continue its funding support for two of the group’s annual, seasonal events:

  • their festive ‘get-together’– 

Held in person for the first time in 2023, group members enjoyed charity-funded craft activities, refreshments and a quiz in the company of close friends.

Commenting on the event, Di Hilson (the Oxford Health Carers Lead), noted:

  • their trip to Waddesdon Manor Christmas Fair –

Initially held as a socially distanced, outdoor excursion in 2021 (providing group members with the opportunity to meet in-person for the first time), this has now become one of the most highly anticipated events on the group’s calendar.

Speaking after their charity-funded visit in 2023, Di remarked:

Di also shared some photos from their 2023 trip:

Carer-focused social events, such as those outlined here, are so vital in bringing together groups of people whose daily roles can often be extremely isolating. They can help to lighten day-to-day pressures and challenges, offering carers not only the chance to share their experiences in a safe environment of understanding company but also the opportunity to build strong connections and friendships, as well as time to relax and focus on their own wellbeing.

Oxford Health Charity are proud to have been able to support such positive events over recent years and we look forward to maintaining our funding support for future projects which will enhance the wellbeing of our Oxford Health carers.

Of course, our project funding would not be possible without the generosity of our supporters so the charity team would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all our donors. To those who would also like to show their support, we would invite you to please visit our ‘Make a Donation’ page: here.

For more information about the support and services available to carers through Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, as well as other local organisations across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, please visit the carers online portal: here. Alternatively, please contact the Oxford Health Carers team at [email protected].