Looking back at Carers Week in Croydon

By - Wednesday 15th June, 2016

Loren Dixon was impressed by the improved variety of events in this year’s Carers Week, and is cautiously optimistic about what will come next

Photo by Carers Support Centre, used with permission.

It’s that time of year again: 6th-12th June, Carers Week. I received via the post and email numerous events and information for carers. Carers Week, if you are not already familiar, is a campaign that is held every year which not only focuses on carers and what they contribute to their community and families as a result of their caring roles, but also on their individual needs. Numerous organisations and companies band together to provide information, events and activities during that week.

Fairfield Halls hosted the Carers Information Day on 8th June, and I went to see what was going on. I am embarrassed to say that I may have been to just one or two events, including an information day, in all my time as a carer. What struck me the most was that there were so many organisations and charities, some that I was familiar with, and others such as Visbuzz and Turning Point Croydon Recovery Network, which were new to me. An eager young woman from Croydon Trading Standard was most helpful with information about the dangers of scammers and fraudsters. As I left, I noticed a woman relaxing with a hand massage from Unique Women and Families, a new charity.

There appeared to be more variety than the previous years in the activities that have been organised throughout Croydon borough and there were some that caught my eye, such as the Tai Chi and Pilates taster sessions and some dancing for carers. As much as I wish to go to many, my time was limited. Which brings me to carers who would have been working maybe full time, part time and as volunteers, who may not be able to participate in many of the activities available in the day during this week.

The findings of the Department of Health survey will be interesting, but the actions that follow will be just as important

It would be a lovely idea if not only the Carers Week is organised in the community, but also in the workplace for those who are unable to take advantage of the information and events provided. However, work may be one of the few places that you are seen as ‘you’ and not as ‘a carer’ so this idea may or may not work. It would probably vary from carer to carer.

Carers Week has reminded me of a consultation that is currently being undertaken with the Department of Health, and this was brought to my attention and to many other carers from various sources. On its website, the Department of Health is opening discussions pertaining to finding ways of improving support for carers. They believe that now is the time to develop a new strategy for carers and are keen for feedback, not only from carers but also professionals who are in direct contact with them. I have already completed the survey, but I have also noticed that they have extended the deadline from the end of June to 31st July. Considering that there are 6.5 million carers in the UK according to Carers UK, the extended time is an added relief for those who are unaware of this consultation.

What the Department of Health finds from this survey will be interesting. But also just as important will be what actions, if any, it takes in light of the evidence. It is one thing to offer carers a say about their experiences for a consultation, but it is another to provide concrete support that is really beneficial and that works for all carers and those that they care for.

Roll on Carers Week 2017. But carers need support 52 weeks per year – just as they give support 365 days per year.

Loren Dixon

Loren Dixon

Loren is a full time carer for an adult sibling who is autistic and is a member of a Autism Family/Parent Support Group in Croydon. She also volunteers for the South London Botanical Institute when she has time and has worked in the cultural & heritage sector. After a long spell of not painting and drawing she has returned to it by finding enjoyment in a new medium to her, botanical illustration.

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