Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Chatting to the folks in Baillieston

Hi again,

I had a great talk last week with carers at Baillieston Community Care. They're a charity that's been providing services for people with dementia in the east end of Glasgow since 1992 - a cause close to my heart. They want to make sure that people with dementia can stay independent and in their own homes for as long as they can, as well as supporting carers and offering respite.

Something I really like about doing these talks is the way that, by getting carers to talk about what matters to them, you can start to see the tension in the room ease off. It's always high to start with, plus people get emotional when they talk about the difficult stuff (and sometimes the good stuff too). But because they've been able to chat about things and share what they think, it can really help them feel better. You just need a few chairs, perhaps a cuppa, and a group of people who want to talk.

The talking's important, but the letters are important too. I know how hard it is to sit down on your own (especially as a carer - time on your own is a rare thing!) and put things down in black and white. It's a big step, sharing that sort of information about yourself and the people you love. And I know a lot of people have wanted to write letters, but not got round to it yet. Thing is, I believe the letters will be what makes the difference. It's hard to share a story that's just been yours, or your family's, or your friends'. But if we share our stories, our experiences of what's good and what's not so good, then the people who make the big decisions about care and health and social work can read them. And if they read our stories, all our stories, then things can start to change - for the better.

If you send me a letter or an email, I will take it to the Parliament and it will be read. That's my promise. But I need the letters first.



Monday, 15 August 2011

The glorious 12th!


If you're a regular reader of my wee blog, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I've been on my holidays this past fortnight - all this time and no updates! Truth is, I've been all over Glasgow (and beyond!) speaking to carers' groups about 'Tommy on Tour' and asking more people to write letters. I might not be on the TV right now, but you can be sure that I'm keeping busy.

Lots of people have been asking me when these letters will be handed in. Well, emails are going back and forth to the Scottish Parliament and I'm hoping it'll be in the autumn. I'm also hoping that it'll be more than just handing over letters - but more about that nearer the time.

One of the best things about doing 'Tommy on Tour' is getting the chance to speak to loads of other carers. It makes me feel really humble when so many people share their personal thoughts and experiences of dementia with me - either in the letters or when we chat. I spent a long time feeling alone as a carer. Isolated. Cut off from all the people I used to know and the things I used to do. Now I know that lots of carers feel like that - and it's not right. Carers shouldn't have to feel that they're on their own. I hope the people who finally read all these letters will see how important it is to make carers' lives easier.

Last Friday I was at a Carers' Link meeting in East Dunbartonshire. I don't know how they found out, but a wee birdy must have told them it was my birthday. They even had a cake for me! I couldn't believe it - it brought a tear to my eye.

Thanks again, everyone and keep writing!


PS I'd like to say a quick thank you to Lynn Williams at the Princess Royal Trust for Carers. Have a look at their campaign for the 2012 Scottish local elections - Carers Votes Count (Facebook page - require login).

My mums name was Joan ,my Mum Had Dementia - our Story 9 Short Films

Tommy’s speech, providing a carer’s perspective,  on the theme of “ No – one ever asked   ” highlighted the transformational impact that ...