Supporting unpaid carers across Bath and North East Somerset in challenging times
As the global pandemic tightened its grasp and impact during 2020, many communities and groups inevitably found themselves severely impacted with normal support infrastructures not able to operate.
One such group was the Bath and North East Somerset Carers Centre, whose purpose is to recognise, value and support unpaid carers living in the local area. They provide trusted information, advice and support for carers of all ages, enabling them to maintain or improve their health and wellbeing as well as take control of their caring role and stay connected with others.
The role of a carer can be incredibly lonely and isolating at the best of times, imagine then being even more isolated as a result of COVID-19, stuck behind closed doors with familiar support and respite avenues potentially cut off.
As the impact of the pandemic started to really hit home, to say that the Carers Centre team were worried and alarmed as to how they would be able to provide their normal services was an understatement. But, undeterred they thought creatively about how they could offer some kind of ongoing COVID safe support during the various lockdown iterations and came up with a range of ideas and interventions that proved to be a lifeline for carers.
To deliver these ideas, the group sought funding from The Society of Merchant Venturers and as a direct result of the £5k grant awarded, the reach of the Carers Centre team was expanded and scaled up and enabled them to reach even more carers than normal:
- Extend their support line times and activity to proactively call carers and check in on how they were coping and linking them up to the Community Wellbeing Hub. Over 1833 calls made and 329 additional carers reached
- Deliver Online Carer Cafes and a variety of online and in-person group activities (when restrictions allowed!). 274 carers benefited
- Sending out “at home break” packs (crafts, puzzles, colouring books etc) to provide a focus for breaks away from caring. 406 grateful recipients
Did this make a difference and have an impact?
The answer is a resounding yes! A total of over 3000 unpaid carers were supported between September and December 2020 in a variety of ways, providing a real sense of connection, encouragement and care and in doing so helping to reduce the sense of isolation and loneliness.
There was lots of positive feedback and many messages of thanks
“Thank you so much for calling. It really means a lot. It’s nice to know that, if we ever do have a problem, we have somewhere to call.”
“It’s been a struggle, to say the least – very hard. We feel alone. But just the fact that you’ve called is worth a thousand pounds -thank you so much.”
“The Carers’ Centre has been my lifeline in my distressing times. The carers breaks’ have been like a little family to me. Thank you Carers Centre for being there for me.”