Local charity Carer Support Wiltshire are showing appreciation to the unpaid carers this Carers Week (6-12 June), with special events and giveaways.
Carers Week takes place nationally every year to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution carers make.
It is also said to help people who do not think of themselves as having caring responsibilities, to identify themselves as carers and access the support that is available for them. This year’s theme is ‘Make caring visible, valued and supported’.
Carer Support Wiltshire run carer cafés, support groups and other events weekly across Wiltshire, and say that they will be making these meet-ups extra special during Carers Week as well as getting out and about to talk to communities about caring responsibilities.
The charity says this is important as 3 in 5 people will have experiences of caring responsibilities at some point in their lives.
Judy Walker, Carer Support Wiltshire’s Chief Executive said: “Carers Week is a fantastic reason to shout about unpaid carers and the vital support that they give to their friends and loved ones every day, enabling them to live happier lives as independently as possible.
“Caring can look different for each of us. There are people supporting older parents while juggling other family commitments and working. Young people supporting parents or siblings who have an illness, disability or poor mental health. Parents who look after a child with an illness or a disability who have to fight for the things many of us take for granted for our children, like an education.
“Looking after someone can be a privilege, but it can also be exhausting and isolating. Often carers don’t ask for much for what they do, but they deserve to be seen, thanked and supported however we can and to know that organisations such as Carer Support Wiltshire are here to help them.”
Cllr Jane Davies is Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care at Wiltshire Council which part funds the charity.
She said: “Unpaid carers have huge demands on their time and can find it difficult to make time for themselves. Some may not even be aware they are carers. Carers Week is a great way to say thank you to all carers for the great work they do day in day out and also to raise awareness of the many ways they can be supported.
"Unpaid carers do an amazing job but the carer needs to take time to take care of themselves too and I hope people will take advantage of the support available as they carry out this crucial role in Wiltshire.”
Carers Week raises awareness of carers like Suzanne from Devizes, who cares for her adult son John who has cerebral palsy.
Suzanne said: “Like all parent carers, I worry for my child’s future and what will happen to him. I have no help from paid carers from Friday until Monday morning. There are rightfully laws in place to make sure employees can’t be made to work without a break, but what about unpaid carers? I’m working and on call around the clock.
“You should never let your glass get half full, let alone empty, but most carers are running on empty. My advice to other carers is to find groups to support you, online or in-person. There are others going through the same thing. It’s like a jigsaw – give me a piece and I can pass it on to someone with a different piece of the jigsaw. Together, with hundreds, even thousands of others with their own pieces of jigsaw, we can sort things out.”
Among the events taking place during Carers Week are a Creative Carers group in Salisbury, a parent carer café in Devizes, with cake and a quiz with prize, and a cream tea for carers at Riverside Community Centre in Malmesbury.
Members of the public can find the full list of what us going on and when on the Carer Support Wiltshire website - https://carersupportwiltshire.co.uk/carers-week/
In addition to all of this, Carer Support Wiltshire are raising vital funds to help carers by holding a virtual balloon race.
Entry costs £3 and entrants will be able to follow the progress online, of their balloon across Wiltshire. There are a range of prizes for the winners, including a £75 hamper and family ticket to Bowood.
Individuals can buy a balloon in support of unpaid carers at https://www.balloonrace.com/carers-wilts-dorset