THIS week is Carers Week, an annual national event to recognise and value unpaid carers.
A carer can be someone of any age, who may be in paid work or not, who supports a friend or family member due to their illness, disability, frailty, mental health or substance misuse. Some may not identify themselves as a ‘carer’ because it’s something they just do.
Dorset Council is joining forces with Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council, Dorset Healthcare, Dorset CCG, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, The Royal Bournemouth and Poole NHS Trusts, Carer Support Dorset, Rethink and many others organisations across the county to reach out, support and help celebrate carers and what they do, especially at this difficult time.
‘Making Carers Visible’ is this year’s theme and the council is encouraging carers and everyone in the community to celebrate and recognise the contribution of this often-hidden group of people.
Even if you are not a carer, think about your friends and family – it is likely that you will know someone who is looking after another person. Across the UK today an estimated 6.5 million people or one in every eight are carers and this includes many thousands who live in Dorset.
Despite the COVID-19 crisis making this year’s event an entirely online one, research carried out by Carers UK demonstrates is it more important than ever, as 70% of unpaid carers say they are providing more care due to the crisis and 55% feel overwhelmed as a result.
Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Health said: “We know that carers during this time will be struggling more than ever. Even at the best of times it can be very lonely when you’re caring for someone.
“The theme of this year’s Carers Week is making carers visible and one of the easiest, simplest things you can do to recognise someone you know that’s a carer, and make them feel visible, is take the time to check in with them and ask if they are ok.
“If you’re a carer and need some support or advice, the best place to start is Carers Support Dorset, a not for profit service funded by the council to help carers in the Dorset area.”
Carer Support Dorset will be running virtual cuppas Monday-Friday as an informal way that carers can connect with other Dorset carers along with Carer Support Dorset staff.
The team will also be launching a cookery video that carers can follow as well as some fun downloadable activities that children can get involved with.
You can also get creative by printing the Carers Week poster, colouring it in and sharing it in your window for passers-by to see.
Across the Carer Support Dorset website and social media platforms, Carer Support Dorset will be sharing stories from local carers about some of their struggles, successes and ways that they cope with caring for someone.
Anna Elston, manager of Carer Support Dorset, commented: “We are looking forward to taking part in a wide-range of activities to highlight Dorset’s unpaid carers. Many carers are ‘hidden’ and don’t consider themselves to be a carer. They can be mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, neighbours or friends and can look after someone with physical, mental or substance misuse problems.
“By working with other organisations, we hope to raise awareness of our unpaid carers and the incredible work they do, often behind closed doors.”
If you are a carer in the Dorset Council area visit www.carersupportdorset.co.uk to find out about the help that’s available to you and more about the events and activities taking place this week.
The team will also be available for a chat if that is what you need right now – call 0800 368 8349.