September has always felt like a fresh start to me. After the relative gentleness of August when the school run is over and people are away on holiday. It feels like a “New Shoes” month, despite the fact that the land around us is getting ready to sleep. I suppose we could think of it as a second spring, when the trees provide a beautiful coloured show and the harvest is collected.
Now is a great time to prepare for the dark months ahead. Isolation can be a real problem in the winter so make a start on finding things to fill those dark cold days before the weather turns and you find yourself sofa bound or box set binging!
Join your local groups. I know we talk about this rather a lot but it is such an important part of keeping yourself well. Even if you are working, you can find that you have nothing else once you get home because you have used all your energy in the workplace and don’t have much time and energy left to maintain friendships. Websites and parish magazines are packed with local offers. If your village doesn’t already host a weekly or monthly coffee morning, now is your chance to organise something! Reduce the length of dark evenings by joining a knit and natter, WI, Men’s Shed, art, photography or local history group and keep your body moving even on the worst weather days by joining a gentle exercise class. Ask me for more information.
Volunteering has become more flexible. You are in control of your commitment level and so you do not need to fear that once you sign up, you will never have a Saturday to yourself again! Phone SPARK 01460 202970 for ideas. Kirsty Jennsen of The Royal Volunteer Library Service has lots of volunteers with a varied commitment load, visiting people in their homes for coffee and a book swap: 0300 123 2224, kirsty.Jenssen@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk. Some volunteer roles can be conducted by phone and possibly from your home. Contact our Carers Service 0800 3168600 to find out how to chat to unpaid carers by phone, or Silver Line 0800 4 70 80 90, Age UK : 01823 345613 or The Samaritans 01823 288998. Consider starting our Good Neighbours Scheme in your area – contact CCS on 01823 331222. We always appreciate additional support to run our Carers Groups that meet to provide advice and a break for unpaid carers. Contact me or the Somerset Carers Service number for more information.
Small Grants are available to start a community group or perhaps to support yourself when going through a difficult time. We can help you find these, either by contacting me or to access larger community based grants and consultancy for Parishes contact Ade on Ade@somersetrcc.org.uk 01823 331 222. For personal funding go to the Turn2us website and tap in your particulars to see if you qualify for something. This could be a small grant for an unpaid Carer to purchase something to enhance their caring role or for improving the insulation on your house.
We are also supporting those who wish to become a self-employed paid carer. Contact project co-ordinator Rhys Davis: RPDavies@somerset.gov.uk or telephone 07788350806 or our Enterprise Agent at CCS Vince Tillman.
Last of all, don’t forget that this is the time to register your family for a Warmer Homes Discount with your electricity provider. You could get £140 off your electricity bill under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
The 2019 to 2020 scheme will start on 14 October 2019. Eligibility Criteria: you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit – known as the ‘core group’ or you’re on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme – known as the ‘broader group www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme or phone your provider.
To find out more about my work and the work of my Village & Community Agent colleagues go to our brand new website www.somersetagents.org – we help when other won’t, don’t or can’t! For Carers specifically go to www.somersetcarers.org