There are estimated to be 60,000 unpaid carers in Herefordshire looking after friends, neighbours and loved ones. It is a sad fact that 80% of carers in the UK become mentally or physically ill as a direct result of their caring role.
Who can they reach out to for support when they need it and who looks after the carers? Herefordshire Carers is a local charity which compliments the commissioned service CarerLinks by providing support to carers and raising awareness of the work that they do. The service is provided free of charge and is crucial in reducing the chances of carers needing intervention by other services or to help prevent them from becoming one of the 80%.
Herefordshire Carers have local groups across the county including special interest groups such as gardening and craft groups. They organise a wide range of events to reduce isolation, improve wellbeing, and develop opportunities for peer support and to raise awareness of these hidden carers.
Over the past three years the service has become crucial to unpaid carers in Herefordshire, providing events, activities, support, respite and counselling to support their mental health and wellbeing. In 2021 two new groups were set up following funding from Herefordshire Freemasons. This enabled the services to be offered to a wider catchment area and provide assistance in these two new locations. The funds have also been used to provide several wellbeing groups held in heritage woodland. These groups provided the carers with new skills that will help them to build resilience.
Georgia Prince Service Co-Ordinator for Herefordshire Carers comments.
“The donation from Herefordshire Freemasons enabled us to continue our service in Herefordshire. We rely solely on donations of which we need over £40,000 per year to continue. Without the help we have received from donations we would be unable to continue the work we do. Our service has become vital for carers who frequently refer to us as a lifeline for them. We are passionate about assisting carers to continue in their caring role, by offering a place to have time to themselves and meeting others in similar situations, reducing the social isolation that often occurs as a result of being a Carer”.
Carers Week 2023
Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlighting the challenges unpaid carers face and to recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
As part of the celebrations, an art project has been unveiled at The Courtyard. This project consists of various panels created by carers across the county. They have been sewn together to create one large wall hanging. Each panel has been created by hand, the majority of which have been hand embroidered. The art project was unveiled at the Courtyard on 5th June as the start of a series of events to mark Carers Week. The art work will be displayed in the Courtyard for the whole of Carers Week and will then be displayed at various locations across Herefordshire for the next 12 months.