What is Carers Week?
Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.
It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
Caring can impact on all aspects of life, from relationships and wellbeing to work and finances. Caring without the right information and support can be tough.
Carers Week’s theme this year is ‘Making Caring Visible’. This will ensure that unpaid carers get the information and support they need from services and the wider public.
What is happening in the City of Westminster, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and The Royal Borough Kensington and Chelsea during Carers Week?
Carers Network is currently supporting thousands of unpaid carers across the City of Westminster, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the Royal Borough Kensington and Chelsea.
During Carers Week, they will run a virtual programme of activities for local carers in response to COVID-19 restrictions.
Local unpaid carers have shown their continued resilience and adaptability by adopting new technologies during the lockdown. They have already been engaging with regular online groups that Carers Network has started running.
Case Study 1: Local carer Saida engaging with new technology and getting the support they would not have otherwise accessed:
Local unpaid carer Saida, who cares for her husband, recently attended one of our new online carer groups. She was able to speak to a caseworker and get information with regards to an application she needs to make to her local council for a carers’ emergency card. She was also able to chat with fellow carers which she can’t normally do. ‘I enjoyed it and it was very good for me. I have two babies so it made it easier for me to do it online this way as I couldn’t go to the groups before and leave my husband.’ Despite not having used an online platform for such a meeting before, Saida found the technology easy to use and will be joining other Carers Network online groups in the future.
Case Study 2: Local carer Iwona found a recent online group a great way of having a chat and seeing other different friendly faces:
Local carer Iwona cares for her husband and recently joined one of Carers Network’s online carer catch-ups ‘I’m not really a chatty person, but I was brave enough to go on Zoom. My husband helped show me how to join the meeting and I was able to chat to other carers along with one of the Carers Network team. It was really nice to talk to someone rather than being alone with a book and to see different faces apart from the same ones I see at home and work. I was also able to ask about my next Carer’s Assessment which has now been arranged for me.’
Carers Network’s groups during Carers Week will include a carers’ poetry club, make-up tips, mindfulness, carer-led line dancing, an art club, a film club, a chocolate workshop and a quilting session. Full details can be found here: https://carers-network.org.uk/carers-week-2020-programme/
Carers Network also aims to generate publicity that will help local people who care for someone (but don’t recognise themselves as a carer) to realise they have caring responsibilities – and that this entitles them to support from local agencies.
Looking forward to this year’s Carers Week, Carers Network’s Chief Executive Sally Miller, said:
“Unpaid carers are currently dealing with more challenges than ever before during these exceptionally difficult times. This makes it more important than ever that we come together to recognise the role played by unpaid carers, ensuring they are valued and well-supported. Carers provide round-the-clock care to a family member, often without support or a break, saving our health services billions per year. But caring can be incredibly challenging with carers too often getting little or no leisure time to relax. Many of the carers we work with talk of feeling increasingly isolated and lonely as their caring role grows. Without proper support and respite, this can take a terrible toll on a carer’s health and wellbeing.
“That’s why this Carers Week by ‘Making Caring Visible’ we are not just asking for carers’ contribution to be recognised. We are also calling on everyone in the community to acknowledge their responsibility in identifying carers and young carers among their employees and pupils, and then to make sure those carers have the information and support they need to maintain their health and wellbeing.”