It’s all about me.....for a change!


It’s all about me.....for a change!

Women faced with the demands of caring for a loved one do not usually have the time, energy or opportunity to think about themselves. But over the past 10 weeks, a unique personal development programme funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA) in conjunction with the Western Trust, has turned this ‘fact of life’ on its head for 30 female carers from Fermanagh, Omagh, Strabane and Derry/Londonderry.


These women, who face enormous demands as carers, graduated from ‘It’s All About Me’, a personal development programme pioneered by Me Unltd, during a carers’ celebration event, at the Silver Birches Hotel, Omagh on 14 January 2011.  Me Unltd is a social enterprise meeting the needs of unpaid carers. Three Programmes were competed across the Western Trust area. 


Speaking at the event, Brendan Bonner, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement (West), Public Health Agency said, “The Public Health Agency works to promote and improve the factors influencing good health and wellbeing, by working in partnership with the community and a wide range of organisations. Seeing the opportunity to develop support for carers, staff from the Western Trust worked with Me Unltd to apply for PHA funding and to develop and deliver the training. The Western Trust also promoted these opportunities to carers, helped with recruitment and provided respite, to enable the carers to participate in the courses. 


He continued, “The PHA funded these personal development programmes, delivered by our partners, as we all value the huge contribution made by carers, both to those they love and care for, and to society as a whole.  The new, useful skills developed on these courses will not only improve the participants’ confidence but also their future employability, giving additional support to these carers, many of whom I am sure, have given up significant opportunities to undertake the role of carer”. 


Alan Corry Finn, Executive Director of Nursing and Director of Primary Care and Older Peoples Services added: “Carers of all ages make a huge contribution to their families and to society. Their efforts help their loved ones to continue living independently - and an estimation cannot be made on the contribution they make to health and social care.


“The Western Trust is committed to areas such as training, carer participation, rights and health and well being. They are equal partners in the care of their loved ones, and their needs must be acknowledged and met by our health and social care systems. This programme highlights the right of every carer to have the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives, whether through work, study or leisure activities.”


‘It’s All About Me’ has provided the 30 women carers involved with invaluable respite from the demands and stresses of caring, while learning about new ways in which they can improve their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.  Through the Programmes the women have learnt new self-management skills including time and stress management, as well as identifying a range social, training and employment options to avail of - motivating each to realise their full potential across all areas of their lives.  A key output from the Programmes has been the set up of new “Me Time” Groups in each geographical area to provide on-personal development activities for the carers involved.   


As part of the delivery of the It’s All About Me Programmes £4,500 worth of pro-bono services were levered under Me Unltd’s Give-a-care Scheme from a range of health and well-being providers in Fermanagh, Omagh and Derry/Londonderry. This is being used to help carers to achieve goals set in their personal development plans.


At the carers’ celebration event, in Omagh on 14 January, 30 women carers were presented with Certificates of Outstanding Achievement and treated to a morning of inspirational speakers and stories from women who care. Me Unltd also present four groups with ‘inspirational’ awards and a financial contribution to continue their personal development work and this was match funded by the PHA. The event was rounded off with a New Year celebratory meal co-sponsored by the Silver Birches Hotel.