This week is Carers Week (7-13 June), a chance to thank the unpaid army who give round-the-clock support to family, friends and neighbours in the local community.
It’s also a great opportunity for local carers to learn about the free support available to them in H&F.
More than 2,000 local carers already use the free services of the H&F Council-funded Carers Network, including:
- One-to-one assessments for the Carers Allowance, (£67.60 a week if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and they get certain benefits)
- An information and advice service, support groups and drop-in sessions
- A programme of events, activities and training.
Cllr Ben Coleman, H&F Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “The thousands of unpaid carers in our community are unsung heroes. They deserve all our support and recognition. Sadly, too many are hidden and not getting the assistance they could - for example, with money or friendly connections. We’d urge anyone who is an unpaid carer to get in touch and see what's on offer.”
Get in touch with the Carers Network at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call the team on 020 8960 3033 to find out more.
Cllr Coleman will be hosting a virtual event for all local carers on Thursday 10 June at 6pm. This will look at the financial and other support which Carers Network offers, including its End of Life service
The Carers Network undertakes hour-long initial assessments of every carer who comes forward.
One issue is persuading people who selflessly look after family that they are, in fact, carers, and could benefit from the Network’s links to specialist help, advice, support and drop-in sessions. All services are free to unpaid carers in H&F.
Read more about the Carers Network here.
We sat down with two local unpaid carers to hear their stories caring for loved ones in H&F.
Local resident May Ryder cares for husband Jim in their White City home.
“He’s completely dependent on me. I’m his full-time carer but I have help mornings and evenings to get him up and put him to bed,” she said.
“To be honest, some days I think I can do it and other days I really can’t face it.”
Both are 72, with Jim (a van driver for H&F Council for 26 years) suffering steadily worsening dementia over the past decade.
Even a half-term picnic in the park last week with the grandchildren proved challenging as Jim became confused and wouldn’t sit still.
“He began throwing his food around. It was frustrating although my younger grandchildren thought it was hilarious,” said May, laughing as she recalled the outing.
She has recently completed a 10-week course of counselling with the Carers Network.
“They’re brilliant. Anything I need them for, I just have to ring them up,” she said.
In the first lockdown, local resident Nadia Taylor was elected chair of the board of trustees at the Carers Network, which she describes as “a wonderful little organisation”. Her own situation gives an insight into just how challenging the carer’s life can be.
The 45-year-old mum of two has been a full-time carer for 14 years, giving 24/7 support to her parents, who have a complex range of medical needs and who share the family home near Olympia with her husband (who also has chronic health conditions) and children.
Her mother is 75, has been blind since 2009, has breathing restrictions and is in a wheelchair. Her father is 79, is undergoing chemotherapy for a genetic condition and also has severe arthritis.
“It’s a very demanding role,” she said. “I’ve had to develop a strong sense of discipline and resilience.
“It’s the personal sacrifice of career, and of any ‘me time’, that can often take the biggest toll on carers.”
Nadia never gets a full night’s sleep as an alarm goes off every two hours reminding her to get up to administer time-critical drugs to both her parents.
During the last Carers Week in June 2020, Nadia was one of four primary carers from across Britain who spoke to The Queen and Princess Anne (the president of the Carers Trust) on a Zoom call, detailing how they balanced their lives and accessed support.
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