Southampton City Council and its partners have marked National Carers Week (8 – 14 June) by pledging to support carers and raise awareness.
A carer is someone who provides support for someone else and is not paid to do so. The necessary support can be due to anything, from a disability to illness, or substance abuse.
Many people have found themselves having to undertake a caring role during isolation due to the change in livelihoods for many people who were formally independent. The council are aiming to highlight the difficulties that many unpaid carers have to face and the contributions they make, especially during the unexpected need for carers during the pandemic.
However, Covid-19 is not the reason many Southampton residents have become unpaid carers. Before the pandemic, there were approximately more than 32,000 unpaid carers within the city, with around 400 being under the age of 15 and roughly 1,500 aged between 16-25, according to the 2011 census.
The theme for this year’s Carers Week is ‘Make Caring Visible’, and the council are working with their provider, Carers in Southampton, in order to help carers and their community to be able to access support themselves. A number of councillors have signed a pledge to continue supporting local carers.
While previously there would be physical activities for carers to visit during the week, the coverage has had to be adapted to follow social distancing. Instead, there is now an online Carer Aware training course available for anyone who wants to complete it, which helps people identify hidden carers and provide knowledge and support for those who need it.
There is also now an initiative where carers can put emergency plans on the council database, so that information is easily accessible for emergency services and adult social care, if needed. Carers are encouraged to complete the online form which can be found on the website, along with other information. There are also interactive online sessions available for young carers to help prepare them if they are ever faced with an emergency.
Councillor Lorna Fielker, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Care said:
We recognise the valuable role of our many carers across the city, they are often ‘unsung heroes’ providing care day-in and day-out for loved ones in our community. The pandemic has seen many unpaid carers playing a vital role in supporting our service and we truly value the work they do and their tireless dedication. Carers Week is a chance for us to celebrate the good work they do and recognise that we need to play our part in supporting them. We are pledging this week to continue to work in partnership to help increase the identification of carers of all ages and to signpost them to our local support services. Everyone has a part to play in making sure carers can ACCESS support.
For anyone who wishes to get involved with this year’s Carers Week, the dedicated website can be found here.