This Carers Week, 7 – 13 June 2021, West Berkshire Council are celebrating the work unpaid local carers do and raising awareness of the support available. They are also asking people who spend time looking after family members or friends, and who may not think of themselves as a ‘carer’, to consider if they are getting the help they need and to get in touch to find out what support is available.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, unpaid carers have played an essential role supporting older, disabled and seriously ill relatives and friends, often doing so on their own, behind closed doors. During lockdown they have often gone without any support or breaks from caring. This is particularly the case when shielding has been necessary. Many people have also taken on new or additional caring responsibilities due to the pandemic.
West Berkshire Council have recognised and supported a high number of carers in the past year (1,162 in total), however this is a 6% reduction compared with the previous year and they’re keen to ensure all carers are aware that they can access advice and support.
Councillor Joanne Stewart, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care said:
Carers’ Week puts the spotlight on unpaid carers across the UK and highlights the vital role that they play Caring can be a hugely rewarding experience but it can be challenging for carers to take time out and care for their own wellbeing.
In the past year we have identified and supported over one thousand carers in West Berkshire and our teams do great work to advise and support them, but we are also aware there are others who would benefit from help who have not come forward. This can be for a variety of reasons, and experience tells us that people often take a long time to recognise themselves as carers and to seek support.
This week we are recognising that the work these carers do is at the heart of the community – their contribution deserves to be recognised and we want to ensure they get the support they need.
Karen Bonnick from TuVida (Berkshire) who support carers and their families across Reading, West Berkshire and Wokingham explains:
Becoming a carer often creeps up slowly on people. Situations can change and health issues can worsen. Often people go from visiting a parent, to spending more and more time there as they need extra help and company, and gradually the reliance on them increases. Some people take on a caring role more suddenly, after a bereavement, accident or new diagnosis.
When a loved one needs us, we are often happy to help – shopping, cooking, cleaning and taking them to appointments. Perhaps they have become more vulnerable due to failing eyesight, hearing, mobility or other ailment and need more day to day help. If you are doing this willingly as a friend or relative, you are still a carer.
Support for carers
People who find themselves in caring situations may not think they need support, but caring can get very difficult at times and it is helpful for carers to know they are not alone and that there are people who can offer support.
Unpaid carers should speak to their GP who can ensure they are registered as a carer and advise about the support which is available.
Information about care and support available to carers in West Berkshire is also available on the West Berkshire Council website: https://info.westberks.gov.uk/carersinfo
Tuvida provides free, confidential and personalised information and support to unpaid carers in West Berkshire. You can contact the Berkshire Carers’ Hub here: https://www.tuvida.org/berkshirehub
You can also find details of local organisations which can support you, and the person that you care for, as well as local community groups and activities on the West Berkshire Directory. https://directory.westberks.gov.uk
Carers Week 2021 – Activities Programme
As part of the Carers Week campaign, TuVida are organising a range of online activities for carers and those who they are supporting including information sessions, social events and wellbeing activities. For more details of what is available and how to sign-up to activities see: https://www.tuvida.org/carers-week-2021-berkshire