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Opinion: Support and celebrate army of unpaid carers

Students from St Augustine's School in Scarborough raised �145 for Young Carer's Day earlier this year.
Students from St Augustine's School in Scarborough raised �145 for Young Carer's Day earlier this year.

It never ceases to amaze me how generous and supportive Scarboroians can be – be they newcomers, or long-in-the-tooth and dyed-in-the-wool.

It’s National Carers Week next week soon (June 11 to 17) and our organisation set out on a mission, a few weeks ago, to try and seek out pledges from businesses and organisations – pledges which would amount to support for carers – not just money, but ways they could think, talk and celebrate more about our army of 
unpaid carers working behind the scenes to support family and friends on top of their daily lives.

Caring isn’t always an easy job, it’s not always a choice, but it is so prevalent in our communities today that nearly every household would have a caring story within their own family unit, or know someone close who did. Unpaid carers preserve the independence of the person they care for, they often lose sight of time for themselves, they prioritise ‘giving’ before taking ... never doing it for praise or finance, and very often doing it with very little recognition.

We support young people from the age of eight upwards – to give you an example of a young carer’s journey, Beth has allowed us to share some of her story:

“For as long as I can 
remember I have cared for Mum. It has been difficult; I had low self-esteem, I didn’t want to wash, dress or be bothered with the outside world. I was in a dark place. The only thing that mattered was keeping the family together.

“Two years ago, with help of the Young Carers Service I changed my attitude to life. I started to see the positives; to balance my life with my caring role; I liked myself. Home 
became a better place to live.

Once confident, I joined the Young Carers Youth Council. I now help other young carers to be positive; to better understand how to cope with the challenges of their caring roles.

“I’m full of ambition. I love leading the Youth Council as we implement the #wecare campaign and hopefully make the world a better place for all young carers out there.”

This perfectly illustrates the impact of what just a little emotional support from our team can do. Carers, young and older, come to us for emotional and practical support to make their current situation a little more comfortable – their journey with us is sometimes short, sometimes a little longer, but always with a desire to find sustainable solutions with people.

Our mission at Carers Resource is to raise the profile of the wonderful job our unpaid carers do – if we can help people stop and think ‘Do I care?’, ‘Do I know someone who is caring for a relative or friend?’ and – in some small way, shape or form – find a way to say ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ or, better still, ‘do you fancy a coffee, a chat, a break for a bit ...’ the world would be a better place.

To put this into perspective, we know nationally there are about seven million unpaid carers in the UK, 4.2 million of these will be of working age and many will be balancing work, family life and caring responsibilities. We also know that three out of five people will at some point in their lifetime become a carer … so I think it’s fair to say that we might all need a bit of time, space and support at some point.

Scarborough and Ryedale Carers Resource is part of the support mechanism out there for carers aged eight to 108 – I know from personal experience (being one of the 4.2million). Carers Resource supported ‘me’ to remain ‘me’, and took the time to help ‘me’ find a balance in life, for the benefit of me, my family and the person we cared for.

Our local businesses and organisations have been thinking this through with us – many offering support for the carers we are already working with – but Carers Week is about raising awareness and giving all those ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ carers a virtual smile and/or hug to say ‘thank you’.

So I’m asking everyone taking the time to read this article to stop and think – do I have a friend, relative, colleague who is going above and beyond, can I make a small 
difference to them!

If you feel you would like to know a little more, please have a look at our website: www.carersresource.net or call the office 01723 850155 – making contact will be worth it.

l Spotlight on National Carers Week locally in next week’s paper.