An army of unpaid carers works behind the scenes

STANDFIRST

It’s national carers week from 11-17 June.

Claire Robinson, funding and development manager for Scarborough & Ryedale Carers Resource, writes about her experience of carers.

 

It never ceases to amaze me how generous and supportive Scarborians can be - be they newcomers or long-in-the-tooth and dyed-in-the-wool.

A few weeks ago, our organisation set out on a mission to seek pledges from businesses and organisations.

The pledges would amount to support for carers - not just money, but ways they could think, talk and celebrate more about our army of unpaid carers working behind the scenes to support family and friends on top of their daily lives.

Caring isn’t always an easy job and it’s not always a choice.

But it is so prevalent in our communities today that nearly every household has a caring story within their family unit, or knows someone close who does.

Unpaid carers preserve the independence of the person they care for; they often lose sight of time for themselves; they prioritise giving before taking - never doing it for praise or financial reward; and often do it with little recognition.

We support young people from the age of eight upwards.

To give you an example of a young carer’s journey, Beth has allowed us to share some of her story:

For as long as I can remember, I have cared for Mum. It has been difficult. I had low self-esteem, I didn’t want to wash, dress or be bothered with the outside world. I was in a dark place. The only thing that mattered was keeping the family together.

Two years ago, with the help of the Young Carers Service, I changed my attitude to life. I started to see the positives, to balance my life with my caring role; I liked myself. Home became a better place to live.

Once I had become confident, I joined the Young Carers Youth Council. I now help other young carers to be positive; to better understand how to cope with the challenges of their caring roles.

I'm full of ambition. I love leading the Youth Council as we implement the #wecare campaign and hopefully make the world a better place for all young carers out there.

This is a perfect example of the impact of just a little emotional support from our team. Carers young and older come to us for emotional and practical support to make their situation a little more comfortable. Their journey with us is sometimes short, sometimes a little longer, but always with a desire to find sustainable solutions.

Our mission at Carers Resource is to raise the profile of the wonderful job our unpaid carers do. The world would be a better place if we can help people stop and think: ‘Do I care?’ or ‘Do I know someone who is caring for a relative or friend?’ And in some small way, shape or form, to find a way to say ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ or, better still, ‘do you fancy a coffee, a chat or a break for a bit?’

To put this into perspective, we know nationally there are about seven million unpaid carers in the UK. Of these, 4.2 million will be of working age and many will be balancing work, family life and caring responsibilities. We also know that three out of five people will at some point in their lifetime become a carer.

So I think it’s fair to say that we might all need a bit of time, space and support at some point.

Scarborough and Ryedale Carers Resource is part of the support mechanism out there for carers aged 8 to 108. I know from personal experience (being one of the 4.2 million), Carers Resource supported ‘me’ to remain ‘me’, and took the time to help me find a balance in life, for the benefit of me, my family and the person we cared for.

Our local businesses and organisations have been thinking this through with us. Many offer support for the carers we work with. But Carers Week is about raising awareness and giving all those known and unknown carers a virtual smile and/or hug to say ‘thank you’.

So I’m asking everyone taking the time to read this article to stop and think - do I have a friend, relative, colleague who is going above and beyond? And can I make a small difference to them?

If you would like to know more, please have a look at our website, www.carersresource.net, or ring 850155. Making that initial contact could really be worth it.