A successful telephone support service that has been helping unpaid carers in Wiltshire while they shield with loved ones has received funding of almost £15,000 for it to be extended for another four months.

Carer Support Wiltshire’s ‘Talk and Support’ service was launched soon after the start of the lockdown with the aim of checking in on and supporting some of the county’s most vulnerable carers, many of which are caring for someone with a long term illness who is shielding.

Around 180 carers are currently receiving regular phone calls from a team of 35 volunteer befrienders who have been trained by Carer Support Wiltshire especially for this role.

Julie Weymouth, Bradford-on-Avon, has cared for her husband Paul since his stroke in 2013. She said:

“Our lives changed with blue lights and sirens to Bath RUH. The doctor told me he has had a stroke. I replied: ‘But he can’t have, he was working in the attic yesterday’. After ten weeks in hospital, Paul was sent home now classed as disabled. The right side of his body was paralyzed and, seven years later, he is still unable to speak two words in a row.

“I have felt very alone and lockdown has not been easy. One day the phone rang and it was Sam. She saved my sanity then and helped me with a problem that I had been worrying about. Her phone call was perfect timing.”

The funding was awarded by Carers Trust and the money will be used to offer further training to volunteers and to facilitate more befriending video calls for carers.

Mark Andrews, Trust Fundraising Officer for Carer Support Wiltshire said:

“The Talk and Support service has been identifying the most high-risk unpaid carers – such as the elderly or those without internet – and checking in with them by phone. Some have been coping absolutely fine but have appreciated being called to see how they are.

“For those who have needed some support, our volunteers have been able to signpost to services and organisations who can help out, or just had a bit of a chat – whatever the carer has needed. Many of our volunteers have been carers themselves so they understand the problems carers face.”

Carer Support Wiltshire also received further funding of £5,804 to run a series of virtual and socially distanced activities for male and LGBT+ carers. The money will be used to better engage with ‘seldom heard’ groups and carers and to ensure they feel recognised, valued and supported by the wider community.

If you are a carer in need of support, Carer Support Wiltshire can help in many ways. Please call us on 0800 118 4118.