Two services at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital have been launched to reach out to Wiltshire’s thousands of unpaid carers.

Thanks to a grant from the Zurich Community Trust and support from Swindon Carers Centre and GWH, the Carers Café and the Carer Information Service have been set up to reach out to carers visiting the hospital. They mirror similar successful initiatives run at Royal United Hospital in Bath.

The Carers Information Service involves volunteers visiting wards and outpatient departments, where they are able to identify hidden carers and provide them with appropriate information, referral, and signposting.

The Carers Café runs from the Refresh Café in the hospital on Wednesdays, from 2pm until 3.30pm and again is run by Carer Support Wiltshire and regularly supported by Swindon Carers Centre.

“The project is going very well, the Carers Café is now well established and we offer a listening ear as well as registering carers for specific support through the carer support organisations,” said Cathy Shahrokni, GWH volunteer co-ordinator for Carer Support Wiltshire (CSW). “The work on the wards is also well established and complements the work the hospital does to ensure carers are looked after whilst visiting the hospital.”

Rachel Palfreeman, Matron at GWH, with overall responsibility for carer support within the hospital, added: “Carers are hugely important to the recovery and ongoing wellbeing of patients and we recognise the need to identify and support carers in our hospital. If carers are supported and well, their loved ones are likely to experience a better quality of care. We all know that carers are often the unsung heroes.”

Funding for the projects has come from the Zurich Community Trust, which is donating more than £27,000 to Carer Support Wiltshire across three years. Zurich Community Trust is the community arm of Zurich in the UK and is funded by Zurich’s UK businesses and Zurich employees’ generous donations.

“We’re passionate about supporting those vulnerable within our communities and with our volunteering and grant programmes, we’re committed to making a difference together through the charities we support,” said Rachel Beddis, of Zurich Community Trust. “Our communities are heavily reliant on those vital frontline services local charities provide, so it gives us great pleasure to award projects such as The Carers Café with the necessary funding they need to continue the amazing work that they do.’

Cathy added: “We are extremely grateful to Zurich Community Trust for their generous support, without which these important carers’ services wouldn’t be able to run.”

Pictured are Jackie Maton from CSW Reaching Communities Team and Rachel Palfreeman, a matron at GWH

If you are interested in volunteering at the GWH Carer Café or Carer Information Point we would love to hear from you. Call us on 0800 181 4118.