The work of carers around the country will be recognised as part of this year’s Carers week (Monday 6 June – Sunday 12 June). Southampton City Council is working alongside Carers in Southampton (CIS) and Southampton Voluntary Services (SVS) Young carers Project to acknowledge the incredible commitment that carers of all ages make to the people they look after.
A carer is someone who, without payment, provides help and support to a partner, child, parent or relative, friend or neighbour, who could not manage without their help. The people they care for may be frail, ill, disabled or have a mental health problem or learning disability. Often, carers will not realise they are acting as a carer and think they’re simply doing what anyone else would in the same situation. Helping people to identify that they’re working as an unpaid carer often enables them to then access support services that are available.
Carers come from all walks of life and are of all ages. Young carers in the city are supported through the Southampton Young Carers Project based at SVS. It aims to provide young carers with a range of support as well as information and guidance, breaks away from home and their caring responsibilities, and a chance to meet other young carers and make new friends.
Leader of Southampton City Council, Councillor Simon Letts, explains, “The support given by the carers in the city makes an immeasurable difference to the lives of so many. The care they give enables people who would often have to be dependent on professional care staff, or even in a hospice, hospital or care home, to remain in their own homes and to continue with their normal lives. The events that are taking place this week help to underline the often unnoticed work of people who act as carers. They will also help more people to identify if they’re acting as a carer without realising it.
“The case studies tell poignant real life stories and illustrate the sacrifices that carers often make in order to provide care to loved ones or friends.
“The financial impact that carers have on the economy, both at a local and national level is huge. It is estimated that unpaid carers save the UK over £100 billion each year. That’s the same cost as running another NHS. England alone has around 5.4million carers, with Southampton having an estimated 36,000.”
Adults who care for other adults in the city are offered support through Carers in Southampton (CIS) Phil Lee, Project Manager at CIS, said, “Any one of us could end up as a carer or cared for and possibly lose independence. We see first-hand the immense pressures that many carers are under; most feel isolated and undervalued and also many suffer physical and mental ill-health. Individually and collectively, we each have a responsibility to help support them and build a carer friendly community.
“The city of Southampton will be distributing 5,000 carnations (supplied by Helliwell) to businesses, health care services, charity shops and people walking to work. A small card attached to each flower draws attention to the free services available to unpaid carers in the city. There is also a call to action to those who receive the flower to pass it on as a gift to an unpaid carer in recognition of their contribution to the city.
“Pharmacies across Southampton have also agreed to help with this campaign during Carers Week by dispensing medicines into 5,000 specially prepared paper bags signposting where unpaid carers can get free support, advice and guidance.”
Southampton Strategy for Unpaid Carers and Young Carers 2016-20 has been written and adopted by a number of organisations within Southampton. To see which organisations have committed to the Strategy visit: http://www.southampton.gov.uk/health-social-care/carers/. Under the Strategy Southampton City Council is implementing ‘pledges’ that it has made to carers in the city, these include, ‘Updating working practices to identify carers and to recognise their important role’, ‘Promoting Carers Aware e-learning’, ‘Sourcing, developing and piloting a ‘Carer’s Health-check’, ‘Increasing the identification of Young Carers’ and ‘Developing age appropriate information for Young Carers’.