Welcome to the April update of the Lewisham Mental Health carers forum. This is one of the several forums that I run in the community aimed at carers who look after someone with a mental illness. The forum is not a support group since it focuses on carers engaging with health and social care services. I feel there is a lack of carer led forums where carers can come together and seek engagement, information, co-production and querying of health services.
Did you know that there are around 7 million carers in the UK? Give or take many more hidden carers? Did you also know that around 1 in 5 carers leave their job to care and many more carers provide care for so long it is harder to get back into employment. Carers across the UK save over £150 billion for the economy and even if it was not about the costs, then it is certainly about valuing what carers do.
Often when I hear from unpaid carers, they tell me how difficult it is to develop skills for the future. Just the look off a carer’s face shows me and that their confidence is gone.
By the Way, I have done a Vlog on this. You can view the video below.
It is not like they want to just leave the person they are caring for in order to work again, but there is a nagging feeling that carers are being forgotten in education and being unable to attempt a future for themselves.
It is understandable that many carers worry about what will happen when they become a former carers. They worry that they have given so much time and dedication to that special person, that they have neglected developing skills for themselves.
I would like to mention it is not like no one is trying to help, there are often activities, advice and skill sessions from carer centers. I would like to praise those giving much of their time and energy to help carers find those skills and confidence to access work, but the pressure is still there.
Carers want to find skills for work that relates to their values. Carers want to be welcomed into a job market that understands the attributes of dedication, serving others, being there and a willingness to continue learning.
It just so happens that Carers UK (A leading national charity giving carers a voice) have been looking into how carers can develop confidence and skills that ca help with employment.
Carers UK understands the stigma faced by many carers who feel they are locked out of education and looked down upon because they are not doing what every other person is doing….that 9 to 5 job.
The situation is that carers work all sorts of hours and carers would love a chance to develop more skills, but unpaid carers need the tools to help them access such skills.
A couple of days ago I tested an online application that teaches carers about developing learning skills, which can give more confidence to many carers seeking a way to make a future for themselves.
The online application is simple and easy to use. It does not take a moment to register and then you are on your way. The online application is called ‘Learning for Living‘ and I really hope carers understand the importance that there is life after caring, or even during caring.
If there is anything I can take from the application is its flexibility as you can come back to the application any time and it does not have to be done in one sitting. The application is well thought out and delves deep into the virtues of caring and relates caring into developing skills.
You should be able to access the ‘Learning for living’ application below.
Some carers do not even think they have skills due to their caring role, but all that needs to happen are tools that explain to carers that they already can developed skills and it just needs to be awakened.
There is no escape, carers have to engage with technology and the UK seeks to develop its technology infrastructure more. Us carers cannot be left behind and using such applications is certainly the future.
As a working carer, I was invited to Carers UK HQ and submit my views of the application The discussion raised several interesting aspects among carers and representatives and it was excellent to see Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage attend, debate and listen to carers views. I admired her compassion and determination to support the developments for unpaid carers.
We all agreed carers have something to offer and even more to gain, even though carers have been giving so much all their lives.
‘Learning for living’ gives carers that chance, we cannot sit back and hope opportunity comes our way, us carers need to take the chance and develop the confidence, understand our value and challenge the future.
Us carers have given so much to society, something that should be valued and treasured, it is about time we get to live for ourselves, its not selfish is it?
Thank you for Carers who attended and Carers UK working hard to not only get carers that voice, but also the skills and a future.
Good luck on your caring journey.
Hey there! Welcome to another new blog from unpaid carer Matthew Mckenzie. I have just come back from the Carers UK Conference 2019. As a carer I was inspired on how the event went and felt part of something. I felt part something very big and felt I should write up a couple of my thoughts on this post.
I had shared a panel session at the Carers UK conference and due to limited time, I could not manage to say all what I would have liked, however I felt I got the main messages out there to the audience. I wish this particular blog post carries on my message to other unpaid carers who stumble across this blog post.
This message is to you…fellow carer.
Before you read this blog considered this, if you are an unpaid carer think of all the outcomes that you have experienced so far. Think of all the hardships that you and the person you care for has gone through.
Carers rights day
Every year organisations that deal with unpaid carers and support those using the health services come together and try to raise awareness of unpaid carers. CarersUK promote the awareness day and theme this year is “caring for the future”.
Just so you know I will introduce the few terms in this blog. When I talk about an unpaid carer, I am not talking about a care worker.
Being a carer can be so isolating, especially if you are new to the caring world. Be it if you are caring for someone suffering chronic physical problems or mental health issues, you need to devote time and energy into caring for them.
Carers UK National Summit is fast approaching and takes place on the 26th of November 2015. Unfortunately if you are reading this blog post a few days before then it could be difficult to attend the Carers UK summit, but before I go into more detail about Carer Networking. What is Carers UK all about?