A Wiltshire charity is using Carers Week, which takes place 7-13 June, to shine a spotlight on the incredible extra work undertaken by local unpaid carers during the pandemic. The theme of this year’s Carers Week is ‘make caring visible and valued’.
The number of hours spent looking after a family member unable to care for themselves rocketed for many local carers during the pandemic. This was because many essential support services and day centres for both carers and those they care for were unable to open due to COVID restrictions although many did move to provide online support.
Even before the pandemic, many unpaid carers were exhausted. According to Carers Trust – a national charity that operates a network of over 120 local partner services including Carer Support Wiltshire – two-thirds of them were spending fifty hours or more each week caring for a family member or friend.
How Carer Support Wiltshire has been supporting unpaid carers through the pandemic:
- Face to face groups moved online
- Additional welfare checks were made by Carer Support Wiltshire staff
- Carer activities such as cookery classes, mental health workshops and book clubs were held online
- We were also able to offer a counselling service and additional support for our Talk & Support service
During Carers Week, Carer Support Wiltshire will be holding a number of online events for carers. Details can be found on its website or by calling 0800 181 4118 and the events include a nature-based wellbeing workshop hosted by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust taking place on Wednesday, and a mental health resilience workshop taking place on Thursday.
Judy Walker is the Chief Executive of Carer Support Wiltshire. She said:
“The pandemic has put huge strain on a group of people who were already under huge pressure, often juggling jobs and family commitments with caring for a loved one.
“We know that many have been caring for more hours than ever during the last year as some support services were unable to operate in the normal way and vulnerable people needed to shield. Unpaid carers are often hidden from view – tirelessly working within the home to support someone who needs looking after,
“3 in 5 of us will care for someone in our lifetimes. That could be an elderly parent, a partner, child or friend. This Carers Week we remind all of those who are currently caring for someone that we are here to support you, and we call on communities to understand the vital work that unpaid carers do every day, saving the UK state billions of pounds in the process.”
Andrea, who cares for her daughter Nell (not their real names), said: “It’s been the worst year ever. A very scary year. I’ve been a carer for 31 years. Before Nell, I cared for my parents. I can’t put a value on the importance of taking time to myself. It’s vital for maintaining my mental health. January and February was the most depressing, awful time for me. We so looked forward to our carer coming. It really gave us something to look forward to.”
Wiltshire Council & Bath & North East Somerset Swindon & Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group jointly fund many of the services provided by Carer Support Wiltshire.
Cllr Jane Davies, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care said: “There are many people who work tirelessly in homes across the county looking after family or friends as unpaid carers – they demonstrate dedication and commitment and they provide a service that can’t be measured. While carers can find this work rewarding it can be hugely challenging as well. It hasn’t been easy carrying out this role through the pandemic, but they have continued their work undeterred. Thank you to all our carers for the amazing work they do.”
Carer Support Wiltshire supports carers of any age, regardless of whether they are eligible for Carers Allowance. If you provide any type of care or support to someone who could not otherwise manage, you can register and receive advice. For more information, visit carersupportwiltshire.co.uk or call 0800 181 4118 during normal office hours.