Carers Week, Monday 8 to Sunday 14 June, celebrates and recognises the amazing work of all of the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers. The UK-wide annual awareness campaign aims to improve the lives of carers and the people they care for – giving them just a little bit of the recognition they richly deserve. There are 72,000 unpaid carers in Leeds, but how many of them know they are a carer? And if they don’t know they are one, how do they know that there’s support out there for when perhaps they need a little help too.
For many, caring is a natural part of life – it is fundamental to loving someone. When we start caring for someone, many of us don’t class ourselves as a ‘carer’, we simply do what anyone would do when they love someone. It’s natural after all, ‘looking after your own’. But sometimes, to care for someone else has the opposite effect for the person caring. They stop caring for themselves; they stop putting their lives first; their health first; their job first. For some, it’s almost like a full stop on the life they once had – and that can be a lonely place. But it doesn’t have to be.
So I need your help. Because almost everyone knows someone who is a carer. I’ll just give you a moment to think of someone if you can and want to…
Do you have someone in mind?
Perhaps your carer is caring just for the short-term, perhaps when a loved one has needed help to recover after an operation. Perhaps your carer is helping a loved one on a more long-term basis; looking after someone with dementia; a disability or someone who is suffering from severe depression. Home from work or school and on automatic pilot to cook tea; help them to bed; get the shopping in; simply being there as company on the long lonely days. Are these carers helping out on their own? Even if not, do you think they could do with a little help and support themselves?
Here’s the good news. There is support available and some incredible support at that. And so, to help promote Carers Week I wonder if you can help by doing something simple? Can you spread the word by telling someone who is a carer that help is at hand? That there are amazing organisations like Carers Leeds who can offer advice, information, support and a whole range of activities to stop that full stop of their lives, and perhaps turn it into a comma, a pause, a time to breathe. They just need to know it’s there, too…
Fortunately lots of carers have already found that much needed support. Carers Leeds has helped so many people get past their full stops – here are just a few of the comments they have received:
“I can’t tell you how happy I am that Carers Leeds exists. I’ve used your service so many times over the years”
Patient Liaison at a GP surgery in Leeds
“You’ve been fantastic. You helped me when I was at my lowest, and it’s so great to be able to speak to you again now my situation has improved”
“I didn’t realise how much I actually did until I sat down with you. I can’t thank you enough. I wouldn’t have known where to start with the forms”
“If it wasn’t for you, none of this would’ve happened. I am really grateful, thank you so much”
“I’m singing your praises to Parkinson’s UK. If you hadn’t given the presentation that day, I would be sitting here in blissful ignorance about what I was entitled to. Now that I have higher rate Attendance Allowance and Carers Allowance, we can afford to get an adjustable bed”
But we need to get the message out to those who haven’t heard it. There are plenty of ways to do this:
Visit the Carers Week website, where you can find out about the events taking place all over the country. You can also pledge your support and say how you will help to recognise, support, and celebrate carers.
Visit Carers Leeds website, where you can find a vast amount of information, advice and support. You can also find out about initiatives and events happening around Leeds.
Tell them about the One number, One service Carers Advice Line launched last year by Carers Leeds. This dedicated advice line makes it easy for carers and professionals to receive the right support and information from the most appropriate people. The Carers Advice Line number is 0113 3804300.