Unpaid friend and family carers across West Sussex could be missing out on benefits and funding that can help them and their dependants.
West Sussex County Council, the NHS and Carers Support West Sussex are supporting Carers Week, which runs from 6 to 12 June, to help make caring visible, valued and supported.
The aim is to highlight the help available to people who may not identify themselves as a carer, despite taking on caring responsibilities for their relatives and friends who live with disabilities, become ill, or older, and needed their support.
Support available for carers
Amanda Jupp, Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services, said: “We want the public and professionals to recognise the caring role. This could be a young carer or an adult who is looking after someone else.
“The difference and impact that being a family and friend carer has on the person they are looking after is huge, but it can also have an impact on carers themselves.
“That is why we want people to find out more about the services that are available to support carers in their own right, not just the person that they are looking after.”
Sonia Mangan, Chief Executive of Carers Support West Sussex, said: “We want carers, and the work they do, to be recognised, valued and supported. And we want people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
“We have more than 30,000 carers registered with us; but we also know there are more than 90,000 carers across this glorious county who aren’t registered. So, if you’re one of the 90,000, and you think we might be able to help you, or someone you care for, get in touch.”
David and Jennie
One of those who has benefited from registering with Carers Support West Sussex is 87-year-old David, who cares for his wife Jennie, who now has several health conditions, some of which restrict her movement, balance, mobility and speech.
David provides round-the-clock care for Jennie, but says they are closer now than they have ever been. Jennie is a former ballet dancer but can no longer walk unaided. David now helps her by walking backwards whilst taking her forwards, like dancing partners.
Carers Support West Sussex helped David successfully apply for a Carers Health & Wellbeing Fund, which helps him and his wife enjoy their regular visits to their local yacht club, which is a safe and familiar place for them both.
David said this was something he would not have considered before Carers Support West Sussex’s help, but he is extremely appreciative of the help as it means he and Jennie can continue to enjoy their coffee dates at the yacht club.
As well as feeling supported and valued, David said the help from Carers Support West Sussex has also made him feel less isolated himself and improved his own wellbeing.
Support for adult carers
If you or someone you know is a carer aged 18 or older, you can find out more and register with Carers Support West Sussex by visiting www.carerssupport.org.uk, emailing email@example.com or by calling 0300 028 8888.
Dedicated support for young carers
There is also dedicated support available for young carers, aged under 18, from West Sussex County Council’s Young Carers (Family) Team.
Visit the Young carers website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01903 270300 to find out what support is available for young carers in West Sussex. This includes details of face-to-face groups and activities which help young people have a break from their caring role, as well as help accessing more support at school or college and making sure they have someone to talk to when things are difficult.
Recently a group of young carers shared their stories with students at Chichester College, who worked with Chichester Festival Theatre to create five animations to help explain how it feels to be a young carer, which you can watch here. The short films aim to improve the understanding people have on the impact caring for a loved one has in their lives.
A free online course ‘Working with young carers and their families’ has been created for anyone working with young carers or their families to help with the identification and support of young carers in West Sussex.