A SUPPORT service for mental health carers in South Tyneside is going from strength to strength.
Just-ICE (Independent Carers Enterprise) was launched in 2011 to provide emotional and practical support to people whose caring role often leaves them feeling isolated.
It works with about 35 carers, with up to 20 attending fortnightly group sessions on a regular basis.
Home visits are made to those who can’t attend.
Last year, the service was shortlisted for Community Group of the Year in the Pride of South Tyneside Awards.
It is in the running for the accolade again, after being nominated by Emily Kent, who cares for son Ronald, 49.
The 81-year-old, from Hebburn, said: “I would like to nominate Just-ICE for the service they provide for me and all the carers.
“We get help with mental health issues, we go out to different places and we get a break from our caring role, which we appreciate.
“We have also had a group holiday, which we enjoyed very much as we have become friends.”
Qualified volunteer John Golightly, who set up the service with Karen Weaver, said: “We are flying at the moment.
“We are a mental health carers support service and a core part of that is the group work, getting the carers out for a couple of hours a fortnight to get them some respite.
“We do a few activities and have a bit of a laugh and a bit of fun.
“It is all about keeping them healthy, active and interested and they love it.”
Mr Golightly said he was proud that the service, which recently received a £2,000 grant from The Barbour Trust, had been nominated again.
He added: “I can only say the carers are passionate about the service and know a lot of hard work goes into it.
“It is a passion of mine to support mental health carers. It always has been and always will be.
“I am delighted that they have gone out of their way to nominate us.”
WE’RE on the lookout for the borough’s unsung heroes for the Pride of South Tyneside Awards 2013.
Nominations can be made in nine categories and there will also be a Judges’ Special Award.
The categories are:
* Community Group of the Year
* Achieving Excellence
* Carer of the Year
* Safer Neighbourhoods
* Greener South Tyneside
* Sporting Excellence
* Role Model of the Year
* Young Performer of the Year (under-21s)
* Child of Courage (under-16s)
The deadline for entries, which can be made using the form opposite or online, is Thursday, March 14.
The awards ceremony will take place at the Temple Park Centre, South Shields, on the evening of Sunday, April 28.
Young Performer nominees will be invited to take part in a talent showcase at the Customs House on Monday, March 25, to help the judges make their decision.