Carer learning is so important

(I posted this on the Carer support site Carewell this morning :

Look up “Carer Learning on the web” –the results are SO boring !!! Why ??? The traditional image of carers is that they are tired worn down - living an unimaginably dull overloaded life; the imagery often used seems to back this up. Caring is hard, it is exhausting, it can be isolating – that is true, however I am still me . I want to be seen for who I am – for me ongoing learning is essential on all levels : for my head, my body, my survival, my spirit. Words cannot begin to explain my passion for carer learning – so , using all the skills I have learned (!) - I've built a special web page for this article :

 I've spent the last 19 years caring full time for my wife, who has Very Severe ME – every single second has been one of agony and struggle. In the spaces in between though, in snatched moments , I have achieved an MA , two Counselling Certificates and a Diploma in Advanced Web Design. I have just spent the last year studying Animation skills - and I FEEL GOOD !! I'm buzzing.... The discipline of learning, the sense of achievement is good for self-esteem, confidence – all the things that being a full-time “lowly” carer can so easily knock out of you.

 Practically I have been able to help my wife so much more by having the confidence the MA has given me, to advocate, to argue for a proper biomedical service, to publish academic peer-reviewed articles – to back-up my case, to build and run Stonebird, my campaigning website, which reaches out people with ME right around the world. Next year my aim is to study to be a Life Coach – if I can get the funding that is; I pray I can. 

Being a full-time Carer is to live in poverty; that is just how it is in the UK. Where I live I can apply for up to £200 a year. It helps – but for serious learning, I desperately want to do a PhD – it's hopeless . Why should motivated carers like myself be blocked from those learning routes ? I have basic webskills under my belt now , I live and breathe CSS3 and HTML5 – yet I want to learn so much more – frustratingly the professional -level course fees in Graphic Design are way out of reach for someone , like me, struggling on Carer Allowance. 

 I 'm hungry for learning –but I need much more than the “Look after yourself for Carers” fare – which is what you tend to get when you look up carer learning. Come on you Carer Organizations : wake up !! Learning has given me so much ; self esteem, interest, a channel for my energy and passion, excitement, interest, validation, usable skills, qualifications.

 It has been more than a life line... It is empowering me !


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