Carers Trust Conference – Making Carers Count 2023

Welcome back to another blog post by carer activist Matthew McKenzie. This site focuses on those who provide unpaid care to someone close to them. Recently I have just come back from a 2 day conference held over at Conference Aston just by Aston University Campus. The event held on 17th May was Carers Trust’s “Making Carers Count” conference.

You might have seen a couple of blog posts about Carers Trust. Basically Carers Trust is a national charity that works to transform the lives of unpaid carers. Carers trust believe in partnership in order to give support and voices to unpaid carers. They have 124 Network Partners all doing their bit to transform change for unpaid carers.

Basically Carers Trust want unpaid carers to be heard, valued and supported.

So with the “Making Carers Count” conference. We were joined by some of the network partners to “Reflect, Connect & Learn”.

The day kicked off with a carer panel discussion. We were joined by 3 carers all giving their voice on the changes to their lives in providing unpaid care. Those on the panel were not your average carers. They also empowered other carers and were knowledgable about their caring role. A young carer on the panel mentioned she had other skills and should not be counted as just a carer.

She was also joined other carers talking about their journey and how their own carers centre helped them.

The attendees and network partners paired up to work on a session looking to understanding different carer projects. Plus we also celebrated collective achievements. In attendance were representatives from Tower Hamelets, Carers UK, Mid Yorkshire , blackpool carers, Wandsworth Carers, Credu carers, Crossroad carers, Carers First, Carers Heart of England, City and Hackney carers, Sussex Carers, Northants Carers, Newcastle carers centre, Bridgend Carers Centre, Harrow Carers and many more.

It was amazing to hear all the good work each carer centre had done. We have done so much over the Carers Trust programme, but there is much more to do. The networking was followed up by a Collective solutions event. Carers Trust then presented the importance of working together and we had a discussion on project challenges regarding the Making Carers Count Programme.

There were some great project updates

  • Carers Heart of England – Projects on the rise of engagement with their cultural carer groups and key events such as the Diwali Event.
  • Wandsworth Carers – Their LGBTO+ carers peer support group
  • Improving Lives Plymouth – Projects on the importance of peer to peer support growing, due to monthly drop ins and activities.
  • Newcastle Carers – Developing and understanding of the needs of carers from Asylum seeker and refugee communities in Newcastle
  • City & Hackney – Engaging with young people, especially using technology like their whatsApp group.

There were more project highlights from aother carer centres, but the blog would go on forever if I listed all of them. The conference moved on to discussing and identifying actions and recommendations for the Carers Trust Network due to their latest “Making Carers Count” Programme.

For Day 2 of the conference, I was delighted to be included on the panel discussion of developing and designing inclusive services for carers. I was joined on the panel with Andy Barber from “Caring Together” and Vicky Morgan who is the Head of Young Carers and Young Adult Carers at Carers Trust. Thanks to Trisha Thompson (Carers Trust head of grants) hosting the panel.

My thoughts regarding service inclusion is that it takes time for carers to get involved. To be honest inclusive services should be including carers at the start, especially hearing carer stories and picking up themes that carers struggle with.

With those themes e.g. problems with carer assessments, being heard as a carer, or access to a service. It might allow the carer to give input on how to improve the quality of services.

I mentioned earlier on in the blog that Northamptonshire carers attended and at my talk I mentioned that the service provided by Northants carers actually won the HSJ 2022 award for system led support for carers. The award for 2021 went to Sussex carers, but it does go to show that having such network partners makes a difference for carers.

We can all learn from each other.

I could not stay for the full conference, although there were excellent presentations from other attendees. Plus a pleasent suprise to meet Carers UK staff.

overall I enjoyed the event and was very grateful to be given a voice as a carer.

You can find more about Carers Trust from the link below.