Staying healthy and connected
There are more than 16,000 unpaid carers in Islington, and 6.5 million in the UK, that’s 1 in 8 adults, and that’s estimated to rise to 9 million in 20 years. The government estimates unpaid carers contribute £135 billion to our economy.
Carers Week 2018 is between 11-17 June, and is a great opportunity to focus on the amazing – but far too often overlooked – contribution that carers make to society.
The theme for this year’s Carers Week is ‘staying healthy and connected’. We speak here to Ismail Bahriyeli, who manages the Islington Carers Hub about some of the support services they provide for carers, and what’s happening during Carers Week.
What is a carer?
“A carer is someone who is supporting a loved one who is older, disabled or with a physical, mental health need or a substance misuse issue. Carers provide a variety of emotional and practical support. Their roles can vary enormously depending on the circumstances of the person that they care for. It could be round-the-clock or for a few hours a week, in their own home or for someone living many miles away.
Tell us a bit about the Carers Hub
“Our aim is to provide information, advice and support to all unpaid carers in the borough. Part of our work is encouraging people who don’t recognise themselves as carers such as family, spouse partners to come forward.
“Carers assessments are a huge part of what we do. First and foremost, these are about recognition – recognition from the carer themselves and recognition by others. Once carers overcome this barrier they are able to seek support.
“We’re not suggesting that recognition replaces the natural instinct we have as a society to want to care for the person we love, because that makes the very fabric of our society – we do it out of love. But if a carer gets anxious or stretched they know we are there to offer some solutions.
What sorts of things do you help with?
“We get a huge range of enquiries – social care issues, lack of income, I would say also in terms of carers being emotionally stretched. We have all sorts of things available. From advice sessions around the borough, through to support groups, out-of-hours services or just a listening ear. To give an example, I once took a call from a lady calling from Germany, whose brother lives in Islington. She had no idea how social care system works and as his sister and carer she was trying desperately to sort out her brother’s care provision. Just giving some good information and advice meant she’s now in a better place to understand how things work.
What do you like most about working at the Carers Hub?
“I know it sounds like a cliché, but to make a difference to someone’s life, to help them carry on by finding solutions to some of their issues. Even if it`s just one person a day, I come away thinking ‘yeah that was worth it’.
“Something that springs to mind is speaking to a carer who had to give up her own residence and job to look after her mother. She’s been caring a couple of years and had got into financial, and also emotional, problems. When I said to her you’re not alone, there are lots of people out there doing this she was genuinely surprised, she was so focused on her caring role she thought she was the only person doing it. I suggested she come to one of our support groups, meet others, as often a problem shared can be a problem solved. She attended and met likeminded people and she’s doing a lot better now. What really upsets me is that someone could feel so alone and isolated needlessly”
What’s on for Islington carers during Carers Week?
“The focus this year is ‘Helping Carers to be healthy and Connected’, so we’re looking at all the ways we can do this. It’s so important to remember that carers are individuals, with health and wellbeing needs of their own.
“We’re running a health and wellbeing event, which gives carers a chance to try something different like aromatherapy, or sing in a choir, or just take the opportunity to get a massage! We’re getting out to the job centre and Whittington hospital, to reach out to hidden carers and lots more besides. We hope there’s something for everyone, and I’d like to encourage as many carers in the borough as possible to take some time out and join us! But also remember we’re here all year round supporting Carers, just give us a call 0207 281 3319”
Details of all the Carers Week events can be found on the Carers Hub website.