It’s time for Croydon to get carer-friendly

By - Tuesday 7th June, 2016

It’s Carers’ Week. Let’s use it to tell the world why they matter, says Amy Deakin

Photo by Carers’ Support Centre, used with permission.

There are an estimated 34,000 carers in Croydon. Carers are the hidden support network of our community, providing unpaid support to a relative, friend or neighbour who needs more help due to disability, illness or age. But who are they?

Carers come from all walks of life. You might be looking after a disabled child, supporting a sibling with a mental health condition, caring for a partner with dementia or checking up on a parent who is getting older and needs more help. You might not even think of yourself as a carer at all. You just get on with it.

In recent years, society has slowly started to wake up to the contribution made by carers. According to Carers UK, carers across the UK save our economy £132 billion a year. That’s a massive amount. But the real impact of the hard work of caring can’t just be measured in monetary terms: it’s in the lives of the people they support, who would not be able to manage without them.

Carers’ Week 2016 runs from 6th – 12th June 2016). It’s an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlighting the challenges carers face and recognising the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. As part of the week, Croydon’s carers can attend the drop in Carers’ Information Day on Wednesday 8th June from 10:00am-4:00pm at Fairfield Halls. This free event is a chance for carers to browse information stalls for the latest advice on carers’ issues, get free health and benefits checks and meet local support organisations and other carers. Carers can also take part in a range of social and wellbeing activities throughout Carers’ Week at the Carers Support Centre in George Street.

We hope more organisations will take up the carer friendly challenge

But Carers’ Week isn’t just aimed at carers. This year, we are asking communities like Croydon to become more carer friendly. Carer friendly means communities where carers feel supported to look after their family or friends, and recognised as individuals with needs of their own. Carers can recommend local services and organisations who are already carer friendly and organisations, employers, shops and services can commit to doing more for the carers they come into contact with.

It’s not too difficult or costly to make Croydon carer friendly. For example: having ways of identifying carers, being aware of the needs of disabled customers and their carers, offering flexible appointments and generally just being a bit more patient and understanding can all help. Carers Week has an ideas list for more inspiration.

To encourage more organisations to take up the carer friendly challenge, Healthwatch Croydon is holding the Carers’ Choice Awards, asking carers in the borough to nominate the organisation and health and social care professional whom they feel does the most for carers. You can vote online and the winners will be announced after Carers’ Week.

Carers Week is all about challenging perceptions and making a change that lasts beyond a single week. By taking those first small steps towards being carer friendly, Croydon can become a place that carers can feel confident in. It’s about time that carers got the recognition and support that they deserve.

The Carers Support Centre is a drop-in centre for carers in George Street, Croydon, offering advice, information and support unpaid carers in Croydon who look after a relative, friend or neighbour who needs help due to illness, disability or old age. It is run by the Carers’ Information Service and offers a varied programme of activities, drop-in advice, advice surgeries, wellbeing and social activities, support groups and a carers’ café.

Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 10:00am to 4:00pm. The Carers’ Support Centre is also the base for a number of organisations supporting carers and has a range of rooms available to hire during the day.

Amy Deakin

Amy Deakin

Amy Deakin is the Communications and Publications Officer at the Croydon Carers Support Centre, a drop in advice centre for unpaid carers based in George Street, Croydon town centre.

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