Charting the history of services for unpaid carers in Helensburgh and Lomond
Prior to 2000 there were no statutory or voluntary services based in Argyll & Bute offering support to unpaid carers as their primary function. However, that year the Scottish Government made funding available to local authorities to be used firstly to determine what services carers living in their respective areas required and then contribute to the costs of providing those services. Within Helensburgh and Lomond a Steering Group was formed and questionnaires were distributed to carers inviting their comments and suggestions. This confirmed the need for an advice and information support service as well as the demand for a Carers’ Centre to be established in Helensburgh.
The Steering Group initially set up an office within a room in the Royal Sailors Rest, Braeholm, Helensburgh, and later employed a Project Co-ordinator and Administrator to take matters forward. On 3 November 2000 the Trustees were appointed to form a Management Committee oversee the development of what was then called the South East Argyll Carer’s Project. At that time, carers were largely invisible to the statutory agencies and one of the first tasks was to identify who they were and begin to provide the level of advice and support that could be afforded with the limited resources available.
In 2001, the Project joined other local carers’ organisations to form the Argyll & Bute Carers Networking Board to share experience and best practice, as well as create a forum for discussing carers’ issues with statutory agencies and other interested parties. At the end of that year, the Project became a member of the Network of Carers Centres across the UK operating under the umbrella of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, which had its Scottish Headquarters in Glasgow.
As the organisation grew and developed, more formal arrangements and structures were put in place. In 2002, a written Constitution was agreed and the Project became a Registered Scottish Charity, with the legal form of a Voluntary Association. In 2004, the name was changed to Helensburgh and Lomond Carers’ Project and it relocated from Braeholm to offices in East King Street, Helensburgh. However, increasing demands meant larger premises were soon required and in 2006 the Charity took occupancy of leased accommodation at 17E East King Street. This allowed the Carers Centre to be properly established and for the services offered to carers to be expanded.
Following a review of the governance arrangement by the Charity’s trustees, a number of amendments to its Constitution were passed at its AGM in 2010, including dropping the word ‘Project’ from its name. This was a prelude to an agreement at the 2011 AGM to seek approval from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) to change the legal form of the Charity to a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO). This meant establishing a new and separate legal entity, which would replace the existing Charitable Association on the Scottish Charity Register. OSCR approval was secured and on 30 March 2012 the Charitable Association was removed from the Charities Register and formally wound up on 5 April 2012.
Helensburgh & Lomond Carers SCIO was entered onto the Scottish Charity Register on 30 March 2012 as a new Charity, albeit with the same Charity number and address as the Voluntary Association. The staff, assets, liabilities and, undertakings of Helensburgh & Lomond Carers transferred to the SCIO on 1 April 2012 and it assumed responsibility for all operational activities from that date. These were not the only changes to take effect on 1 April 2012, as that day the Princess Royal Trust for Carers merged with Crossroads Care (England and Wales) to form a new charity called the Carers Trust. The SCIO became a member of the Carers Trust Network.
There were 4 staff posts transferred from the Charitable Association to the SCIO and these included the Manager, Administrative Support Worker and 2 Outreach Support Workers. The SCIO quickly added a Young Carers Development Co-ordinator and a Young Carers Support Worker in April 2012. In February 2013, a Carers Training Co-ordinator and Carer’s Assessment Support Worker joined the team to be followed in June 2013 by a Carers Befriending Service Support Worker. In April 2014 an Education, Training and Employment Worker was recruited to provide support to young adult carers and, in March 2015, an additional Young Carers Support Worker was employed, which brought the staff complement up to 11.
A new staffing structure was introduced on 1 April 2015, which broadened the responsibilities of the Young Carers Development Co-ordinator post to assist the Charity move towards a more integrated model of service delivery and the job title was changed to Carer Services Team Leader. In October of that year funding for the Education, Training and Employment Worker ended and the post was removed from the establishment. Unfortunately, financial restrictions in 2016/17 meant that the 2 other posts dedicated to working with young and young adult carers could not be sustained and these posts were also removed from the establishment at the end of April 2016. In order to maintain a reduced level of services for younger carers, the Carer Services Team Leader had to take a more operational role in this area of work. As an interim step, until additional resources are secured, the role of one of the part-time Outreach Support Worker posts was widened to support young as well as adult carers. The number of staff currently employed has fallen to 8.
In February 2016, the Charity relocated to its current accommodation in Lomond House, which it shares with NHS Highland’s Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services and Children 1st. Lomond House not only provides more space and improved facilities, it also allows staff to work closely with health professionals and opens up opportunities for joint working and the development of new services.
When the Charity was launched in November 2000, there were just 17 carers in receipt of assistance and support, but this quickly grew and at the end of 2015/16 it had around 850 adult carers and former carers and 170 young carers registered.