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Local charity Carer Support Wiltshire are celebrating their 10th anniversary of helping unpaid carers in the county and asking people to support them so they can continue to help for another decade.

Over the last 10 years, Carer Support Wiltshire have expanded over the border to Dorset. and set up a number of schemes, including Home from Hospital, which helped unpaid carers in the early days after a loved one was discharged from hospital, and the GP accreditation scheme, which sets minimum standards for the services GP practices in Wiltshire provide unpaid carers.

This Christmas, the charity are asking for your support – whether it’s in the form of volunteering, donating or fundraising – to ensure that unpaid carers in Wiltshire can access services that support them, such as befriending, counselling and carer cafes.

Leanne Hubbard is Head of Fundraising and Partnerships at Carer Support Wiltshire. She said:

“The work that unpaid carers do hasn’t changed over the last 10 years. We have this incredible army of people doing, often unseen work, to selflessly care for their loved ones.

“But the landscape has changed for them, particularly since the pandemic began. Unpaid carers need to be seen and supported more than ever today, because while the rest of us can return largely to normal this Christmas, many carers continue to shield for the sake of loved ones. They are less able than ever to be able to take respite due to closure of services and fear of exposing the person they care for unnecessarily to risk.”

Ros in Wiltshire cares for her husband who has dementia. She said: “I notice I have to help him more with things and he has totally lost his short term memory.

“I help him in the shower and I need to be on hand to help when he gets dressed and undressed. He couldn’t prepare a meal or feed himself now. He wouldn’t remember where the coffee or tea is. I’m 88 now and I’m happy to be able to help him.

“I have never felt vulnerable in my life but I have during Covid. I’m diabetic and obviously we’re classed as vulnerable anyway due to age. I haven’t gone back to using public transport yet.

“I miss my freedom. I used to belong to a few things – I played bridge and bowls and sang in a choir. I can’t do them anymore. Now things are returning to normal I know others are back doing those things and I feel left behind.”

Carer Support Wiltshire offers many services for unpaid carers, including professional counselling, regular cafes – in person and online – for carers to meet up and access support, and a befriending service called Here to Talk.

They are a lifeline for many – helping to alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness. In order to continue running these services, the charity are asking people to consider making a donation this Christmas, perhaps in lieu of sending Christmas cards.

This can be via the website or money can also be raised by selecting Carer Support Wiltshire as your chosen charity when shopping with Give as You Live or AmazonSmile.

In the week following Giving Tuesday – 30th November, 12pm – 7 December, 12pm, The Big Give Christmas Challenge will double donations made to Carer Support Wiltshire, so making your donation during this time will double the impact you will have for unpaid carers. Donate on The Big Give website to get your donation doubled.