Carers Week is a special time of the year when the role played by carers, 72,000 plus in Leeds, is acknowledged, celebrated and valued. At Carers Leeds, the organization providing information, advice and support to the city’s carers, it is a time when the whole staff team is excited and busy, getting the word out to as many people as possible about the help and support available to carers. Feedback from carers over the years has told us that information, advice and support received at the right time, the time when the carer most needs it, can make a huge difference to how their caring role develops and how quickly difficult situations or crises can be managed.
Helena Bladon, Carers Leeds, tells us more about what’s happening in the city for this year Carers’ Week which runs from 6– 12 June.
During Carers Week, there will be information stalls all over the city – in the city centre on June 6, in shopping centres and supermarkets and Leeds city market on 9 June – look out for us.
Carers Week is a time when we can make sure that every carer in Leeds knows about the service we offer. We celebrated our 20th anniversary in May this year with a very special visit from HRH the Princess Royal. So we feel like an established service, but one that is always listening to carers and looking to improve how we offer help and support. The Carers Leeds Advice Line (0113 380 4300) is open Monday – Friday for phone enquiries about caring for a loved one with health problems or disabilities. Carers can also drop-in to our office on The Headrow or make an appointment to see a Support Worker. If a home visit is required, this can also be arranged.
Some specialist support is available for carers of people with mental health issues, dementia and we have 2 members of staff to specifically support parent carers of children with additional needs. Young adult carers aged 16-25 are linked into a service offering age appropriate help and activities. We work closely with Touchstone to make sure that carers from black and minority ethnic communities receive culturally sensitive support.
We pride ourselves on responding to the needs identified by people who approach our service. We find that most carers need information and advice on welfare benefits, respite care, services for the person they care for, getting a break from caring and in many cases, a full Carers Assessment is appropriate, which we arrange with staff from Adult Social Care based in our office. Carers also just need someone to talk to, someone who will listen, without judging: someone who is not a family member of friend. All our Support Workers are skilled in offering this emotional support.
Carers Leeds staff also help people who are affected by another person’s drug or alcohol use. We can help family members and friends to manage the difficult personal and domestic problems that arise when someone they care for is using drugs or alcohol and work with them to find ways of relating to their loved one which is not damaging to the carer.
We have been aware for many years that carers often neglect their own health in favour of the person they care for – this has been backed up by research from the national charities with an interest in caring issues. Our new Health and Wellbeing project works in the North and South &East areas of Leeds to help carers improve diet and exercise and will advise on reducing smoking and drinking alcohol and also offers help around keeping emotionally healthy and well.
We are very proud of our programme of Carers Support Groups in Leeds. We currently run 28 different groups and are resourcing work in the outlying areas of S&E Leeds to set up new groups using existing community facilities.
And finally, we could not provide all these services and activities without the help of all our will and enthusiastic volunteers, many of whom are carers or former carers themselves.
More information on Carers Week, or the Carers Leeds service, is available from our website www.carersleeds.org.uk or by contacting us either on the Advice Line 0113 380 4300 or our Admin Line 0113 246 8338.
Thanks for talking to us about the inspiring work of the staff and volunteers at Carers Leeds.