Making those who care for others feel both “visible and valued” is the aim of this year’s Carers Week, with Durham County Council’s County Hall set to be lit up to raise awareness.
Carers Week, which this year takes place from 7 – 13 June, is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the huge contribution they make to individuals, families and communities. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
This year, carers across the country are continuing to face new challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, with many people taking on more caring responsibilities for their relatives and friends who have a disability, mental or physical illness or who need extra support as they grow older.
The theme of this year’s week is to help make caring visible and valued, which is why Durham’s County Hall building and other North East landmarks will be lit up from dusk on Monday 7 June.
Elaine Coult cares for her daughter Rhiannon, 24, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Elaine, 56, of Sacriston, who also works as a kitchen assistant, said: “I don’t think carers do get enough recognition. It’s difficult to combine working with caring for someone and many people don’t see how much work you have to put in.”
Lisa Thompson, 40, cares for her son Matthew, 10, who has autism, and says that it’s important that carers are valued by society. Lisa, of Chester-le-Street, who is also mum to Lydia, 14, said: “I think sadly there is a stigma attached to caring in that some people think you are lazy for not working so that you can look after someone. But people maybe don’t consider that we have to make sacrifices ourselves to do what we think is best.”
Council-commissioned services The Bridge Young Carers Service – Family Action, Durham County Carers Support and Horizon Young Adult Carers Service will be hosting events to celebrate the week.
Durham County Carers Support (DCCS), which supports over 23,000 carers, is using Carers Week as an opportunity to recognise the amazing contribution of unpaid family carers during the pandemic who have been hugely impacted, while staff will also be reaching out to those carers who have only just realised they have a caring role and don’t know where to start getting help and support.
During the week, DCCS is also working with businesses to help them recognise and support staff who are juggling work with caring responsibilities and holding three information sessions to support carers around financial issues.
The Bridge, which works with young people, will also be providing a number of training sessions for professionals during the week including training to help professionals identify, support and refer young carers for support on Tuesday 8 June, while a carousel event for One Point services and Families First teams across the county will be held on Wednesday 9 June.
On Thursday 10 June training will be held to support professionals to develop further insight into carers roles that young people may have, and the legislation around this.
On Tuesday 8 June and Thursday 10 June, both at 11am, County Durham businesses are invited to a Carers Week Webinar: 4 Simple Steps to Becoming a Carer Friendly Employer. The webinar highlights how accessible the award is to all businesses. Those looking for further information should email email@example.com
And from 10am – 11am on Tuesday 8 June Horizon Young Adult Carers Service is hosting a Young Carers Awareness Raising session. To book a place email firstname.lastname@example.org
Audrey Vasey, chairman of trustees at DCCS, said: “Lighting up County Hall is a fantastic way to celebrate Carers Week this year and we are proud to be part of the initiative to ‘Make Caring Visible and Valued’ across County Durham.”
Andrea Emerson, volunteer development co-ordinator for DCCS, said: “Carers Week is a great time for us all to work together across communities, businesses and the council to find and support more people with a caring role. There is so much help out there so please get in touch.”
Lee Alexander, Durham County Council’s head of adult care, said: “It’s vital that the hugely important role of carers is recognised and valued. There are so many carers who go above and beyond to look after those who need help and I hope that this Carers Week raises awareness and shows our appreciation for the work carers do and the sacrifices they make.”