Lambeth is celebrating Carers Week which starts today, Monday 6 June 2022, to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by unpaid carers. Across the country carers have taken on huge challenges as a result of the Covid pandemic, many providing more care while dealing with financial pressures and increased isolation.
The 2011 Census revealed over 687,000 Londoners spent at least an hour a week caring for someone, with 20% of those providing over 50 hours of care per week. With 2021 Census data yet to be published, the true number of unpaid carers is likely to be much higher. A recent survey by Carers UK found that 70% of carers are providing more care than before the pandemic.
Lambeth carers share their experiences to help others
Six months into the pandemic, Chris from Vauxhall became full time carer for his 15-year-old. He shares some of his experience and what has helped him.
“My teenager was struggling. They told us they were self-harming and couldn’t face anything anymore. We went to our GP and got a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) referral, but things escalated quickly, and we ended up in A&E.
“They were admitted to hospital, came home again, but kept being readmitted due to several suicide attempts. They became so unwell I decided to give up work to care for them full time.
“The A&E staff have been terrific, but it’s still been challenging to get the right support from the system. Having worked in social care I understand the pressures health and social care are under, but it’s something different to see it from the other side.
“What helped the most was finding the Carers Hub and, through them, various local parent forums which allowed me to connect with others going through a similar experience. Their newsletters have also been great – they gave me access to legal advice and online tai chi classes.
“I’d recommend anyone in a caring role ask for a carers assessment to get all the benefits and support you can. Get yourself a carers card, look for support from local forums. Self-care is imperative, finding little moments of zen for yourself. And be true to yourself – when you need to don’t be afraid to speak up and cry in front of people, ask for help if you can’t cope.”
Margaret from Tulse Hill cares full time for her grown up daughter, with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour, and her elderly mother. She’s been a carer for her daughter since birth and has four grown up children who also help out.
“Being a carer is a very difficult job, it’s 24 hours. You can feel like you’re on your own a lot of the time. I’ve cared for my daughter, who’s now 33 years old, since birth, and my mother who also lives with me. She’s 90 years old, needs lots of personal care because she’s had a stroke and her arthritis also makes it very hard to do things.
“My daughter goes to a community centre three days a week and the other four days she gets help from a support worker. This gives me a break and her more time in the community. My mother also has a support worker for two hours a day. I also have the option to have a respite break every few months.
“The Carers Hub do lots of things in the community, such as virtual mindfulness, pottery and various courses. Their newsletters are an excellent resource – I found out about the Carefree initiative this way.
“Carers4Carers also do fantastic things including exercise classes, theatre trips and park walks on Fridays. It’s very, very welcoming and there are lots of good people who you can share and have laugh with. This helps me a lot.
“DASL advocate for people and carers caring for people with disabilities – we have carers meetings and some of the decision makers come along from adult social care so we can put our concerns to them.
“I would say to other carers that information is key. Come to meetings and activities with other carers to get support, don’t ever suffer in silence.
“My mother and daughter are precious to me, and I wouldn’t leave them in anyone else’s hands. It can be very challenging and lonely, but I love being a carer. And with the right support caring can be enjoyable.”
Lambeth Carers Hub
The Carers’ Hub supports unpaid carers (aged 5+) providing individual and support, activities and training. Carers (18+) can also apply for a Lambeth Carer’s Card to connect to free caring information and resources, including support around emergency planning.
www.carershub.org.uk / 020 7501 8970
Request a carers assessment
If you care for an adult who is elderly, with a disability or with ill health you can request a carer’s assessment to discuss the support you may need.
Carefree is a short breaks initiative which gives carers time away from their caring responsibilities. Full-time, unpaid carers can apply at: www.carefreespace.org/take-a-break
Carers4Carers is a social enterprise run by carers for unpaid carers. They offer a range of services and one to one support to reduce loneliness and isolation and improve the emotional, physical and financial wellbeing of carers.
Disability Advice Service Lambeth (DASL)
DASL are a user-led organisation run by and for disabled people in Lambeth. They provide support for disabled people to play an active role in their communities.
Lambeth’s Carers Strategy
The Lambeth Carers Strategy will be refreshed in 2022. We need views from carers on what would make you feel more supported. Visit www.lambeth.gov.uk/carers-strategy or call 020 7501 8970.
More support and information
You can also download and read more about support organisations for carers in the Carers Week information leaflet.