Unpaid carers celebrate Carers Week in Tower Hamlets
To mark Carers Week (8 – 14 June), Tower Hamlets Council is working with local health partners to raise awareness of the role of unpaid carers. On Tuesday (9 June) Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, joined the Carers Centre’s virtual forum to thank carers for their hard work and express the council’s appreciation and commitment to supporting local carers.
There are over 25,000 unpaid carers in the borough who provide support for someone who has a disability, illness, mental health problem or who needs extra help as they grow older. The annual awareness week is an opportunity to recognise the contribution carers make to society and highlight the support available, including advice and information services and social networks. The coronavirus pandemic has meant many services have needed to adapt, but support is still available online.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “Unpaid carers play an important role in supporting the health and wellbeing of people they care for and we want to make sure that those in our borough and workforce with these extra responsibilities feel valued.
“Caring for a loved one can bring its own challenges, which is why we provide support and resources, including through our staff carers network which gives carers a chance to meet and offer peer support to each other.”
Working with Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group, the council provides funding to the Carers Centre Tower Hamlets. The centre supports carers by hosting social clubs and wellness sessions, including meditation. During Carers Week extra events have been organised, such as a Zoom pamper yourself at home session and a carers lockdown stories group.
The Young Carers Project (another programme the council supports) offers weekly sessions catered to young carers, including group activities, such as arts and crafts, film making, baking and day trips to places such as escape rooms. In lockdown these services are now hosted virtually with weekly keep in touch calls taking place on Zoom.
For Carers Week the council has also launched a virtual music project to give young carers the opportunity to develop their music skills through producing and DJing. Sessions are free and those taking part can work towards an award called the Arts Award Discover.
Graham Collins, Chief Executive at Carers Centre, said: “The important role and key work of carers in our communities often goes unnoticed.
“We, at the Carers Centre, put carers centre stage and make sure that they get the emotional, financial and social support that they need, to both carry out their caring role and to live a life beyond being a carer.”
The council is in regular contact with the parents of younger carers and has sent out play and activity packs to give them something fun to do indoors and keep them occupied in lockdown.
Tatiana Nye, a former finance and new media professional, gave up her full-time job in December 2011 to look after her mother, who has complex health needs. Since identifying and registering as an unpaid carer, she receives support from the council and has been referred to an occupational therapist and the Carers Centre. Since the pandemic, Tatiana has been able to collect the appropriate PPE from the council’s distribution unit, keeping herself and her mother safe.
Tatiana said: “It’s really good to know that during this time we are looked after and services are still being provided so we can carry on. The Carers Centre provides the best peer-to peer support facilities, as well as great informational support. This is especially crucial for the new carers who do not know what services are available and how to get them.”
Dr Sam Everington, Chair of NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group and a local GP said: “Many unpaid carers are under even more pressure during these difficult times, but those looking after loved ones can get support from their local NHS, even during coronavirus. It is important you do not wait if you or the person you are caring for needs medical help, whether that be physical or mental.”
The council is committed to building an inclusive workplace for staff with caring responsibilities and this week, was the first local authority in the UK to be accredited as a Carer Confident Active employer by membership forum, Employers for Carers. The accreditation recognises employers who support those who provide care alongside working.
Posted on Friday 12th June 2020