This month Health Inequalities Volunteer James Evans met with Julie Carter who is the Ca(i)re Programme manager at The Eric Liddell Centre in Edinburgh. The Centre is a refurbished church, named after the 1924 Olympic Gold winning 400 metre runner Eric Liddell. Eric studied in Edinburgh and attended the church. The Centre offers a range of different types of support from specialist day care for individuals with dementia, the Ca(i)re programme, charity shops, rental office space for other charities and a café. The Eric Liddell Centre has a commitment to “Inspiring, Empowering and Supporting our Community”.
Stress and isolation are identified by Julie as the two main areas of health inequalities that affect the people attending the centre. The stress is too often a fact of life for the carers who attend the Ca(i)re Programme. The programme is designed to give people time for themselves as well as provide a range of activities to help reduce stress, including Stress Management Classes, Art Gallery Tours and Tai Chi. One of the most significant elements of these sessions is peer support. This allows individuals to share their knowledge, experience and feelings.
Another programme is the specialist day centre for people with dementia. This runs 5 days a week. The main goal is to reduce isolation, as well as helping to provide a structure to members’ week. Dementia creates social isolation for the individual and their families, so the day centre has a positive impact on everyone . Julie gives an example: “The confidence a member gets from singing in a group, where they know all the words, makes a huge difference to an individual with dementia”.
The Centre does face challenges around reaching all those individuals who could benefit. With the Ca(i)re programme carers do not always self-identify themselves as such, so do not always seek out support . Information is put out via leaflets and the internet; however, there is still a large number of vulnerable people to be reached. Julie feels that one of the major improvements by the Scottish Government in this regard is the Charter that is to come into effect which legally requires GPs d to recognise a carer.
Another issue facing the centre is uncertainty over funding and contracts, which can hinder their ability to plan. All courses offered are free to users and the enterprise of the centre running charity shops and a café has allowed them to raise money to put towards their many different programmes.
The Eric Liddell centre is clearly committed to the reduction of health inequalities as well as improving people’s wellbeing generally. There are events throughout June 2014, including Carers week from 9th to 15th June. Their summer programme starts on the 23rd of June. For more information on their services or these events please visit their website