Though individual members can be seen supporting one another at any of its events, CiP as a body does not see itself as a support group, nor is its prime role to provide information or act as a help-line. Its key aim is to identify, nurture and empower those carers who express interest in becoming pro-active in their own locality. The general aim of these ‘active’ carers is to contribute as partners to the improvement of services for the general benefit of all mental health service users, plus those family members or friends who “provide regular and substantial support” for them – the definition that makes such a person a ‘carer’.
In addition to carers, CiP welcomes as members several groups of people with an interest in the carer- facing aspects of the MH service. Employees of NHS or local authorities, or of third sector employers, whose role is to provide support for carers form one important group. Another comprises staff involved in training and development of professionals in carer-related matters. Several members are employees of the service who have expressed interest in joining because they have become involved in working with CiP on one of its commissioned projects in their own field.
Most active carers have had a caring role for long enough to be regarded as ‘experts by experience’. Many have individual expertise – knowledge skills or experience – in further fields that can be of value to the MH service or to CiP, or to both. While widening its own capacity by drawing in carers with suitable expertise, CiP seeks to help build a core of active carers in each locality of the West Midlands. In doing so CiP wishes to ‘go with the grain’ of what drives the service, working always in partnership with others.
The following references to CiP’s published material or to other sources of information may be helpful-
Cares in Partnership is incorporated as a community interest company (CIC). Being a membership-based organisation, CiP uses the format of CIC intended for bodies with a wide membership. Members have no particular duties or responsibilities. CICs are not required to issue shares, so there is no need for members to be registered as shareholders. In the event of failure of the company each member could be liable for up to One Pound, a fairly trivial sum. However to avoid even that risk, the current directors have agreed to underwrite any liability up to a total of One Pound per member.