CARERS struggling to cope with loved ones were given a new lease of life on a course designed to give them help and support.
Many took advantage of the vast array of services available on the Caring with Confidence programme, which was launched last week at the Ealing Carers' Centre, in South Ealing Road, Ealing.
The free seven-session course is being run at various centres in Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham.
It offers practical and emotional suport and advice on how to juggle caring and a social life. The first session, Finding Your Way, was attended by 16 carers.
Pat Williams, programme coordinator, said: "They enjoyed the session enormously and several of the group were amazed to find that, in spite of their years of experience as carers, they were already discovering new ways of tackling ever-present problems.
"By coming along to the course, several carers have also been made aware, for the first time, of the services available for them all year round at the Ealing Carers' Centre.
"When they left us, everybody had made new friends and was excited about the prospect of coming back next week. A couple looked quite liberated by the experience!"
She said she was delighted with the overall response to future sessions, adding: "Our aim is to empower carers, and to enable them to build their own support network as a result of meeting each other on the course. Caring can be a very isolating life, too often confining the carer to the home. Two of the carers attending are only able to leave their family member because we are able to pay the cost of respite care while they attend the course."
Sian Vasey, director of the Ealing Centre for Independent Living, which runs the carers' centre, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for carers and we are very pleased to be hosting the programme.
"The good thing about it is it deals with lots of different subjects, so it offers a wide learning base and people can pick and choose according to their own needs. This is just one way that the carers' centre can provide information for people."
The Ealing course is being held at the Ealing Carers' Centre, 46 South Ealing Road, Ealing, on Tuesdays until April 6 and on Thursdays at Percy Barton House, Dawes Road, Fulham, until April 22, both from 11am to 2pm.
To book a place call 020 8563 8014. You can go to as many sessions as you want.