Carers Week is an annual awareness campaign that celebrates and recognises the vital contribution of the UK’s unpaid carers. These carers support family members and friends who have a disability, a mental or physical illness or need extra help as they grow older.
Carers provide round-the-clock care, often without support or a break, saving our health services billions per year. People can become carers at any age, and even overnight if a family member or loved one is in a bad accident. A caring role can impact on a carers’ physical and mental health, with carers often prioritising the health of the person they look after and neglecting their own welfare.
This year, many more carers across the country are continuing to face new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are now 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers, many have found their caring responsibilities have increased over the last year.
The theme for Carers Week this year is ‘Making Caring Visible and Valued’.
Carers Network is an independent charity supporting unpaid carers in the City of Westminster, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
This Carers Week they want to make sure all the unpaid carers in these boroughs are aware of the support that is available to them.
These could be carers like Maida Vale resident Farzan Imanzadeh
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Farzan (29) looks after his brother and elderly grandmother. He felt re-assured after first speaking to a member of Carers Network’s team in 2019 “…he was great to deal with. The information he was able to provide was what I needed”. Farzan then had a Carer’s Assessment where a support plan was put in place so he would be better supported in his caring role.
Farzan was able to apply to the council for his Carers Personal Budget grant, some of which he used to put towards a well-deserved holiday for him and his family, so he could have a break from his demanding caring role. It is essential that unpaid carers are able to take such a break, as otherwise their health and ability to carry out their caring role suffers.
After his most recent assessment Farzan said Carers Network’s caseworker was “understanding, demonstrating her empathy and caring traits, insightful (providing information that I previously knew nothing about!) and above all a great human being that did not just treat me as another case/file – but as a human being that is going through a lot of hardship and pressure in life.”
Unpaid carers have been placed under increased strain due to the pandemic and it has had an impact on Farzan’s caring role. “During the first lockdown, I found it extremely difficult to care for my grandmother and brother. As they are high risk individuals, I needed to be careful and try not to contract the virus. This meant limiting my outdoor activity (seeing friends, going for a walk, shopping) and meant an extra strain on myself to provide for them and keep myself active.
“Through Carers Network. I was empowered and realised I had to be in a better frame of mind to provide care more effectively. It is fundamental to care for yourself first, then care for others. It’s the same as a plane about to crash, you have to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. I hope it will never be as drastic as that, but it does definitely put things into perspective!”
Too often carers such as Farzan see their role as ‘just something I do’ for a loved one or family member, as a result they will be missing out on vital support. Carers Network will be reaching out to connect to even more of these local unpaid carers through their new Carers Found outreach programme. This will recruit Carers’ Champions and work with local community organisations to raise awareness of carers’ issues locally, so that these unpaid carers don’t miss out.
During Carers Week, we’re coming together to help make caring Visible and Valued so that carers such as Farzan are not just visible to the community, but also feel valued by them.