Making the vital work of County Durham carers more visible will be the theme of Carers’ Week, which starts on Monday (8 June).
Carers provide unpaid support and care for family members, friends and neighbours. The Council’s commissioned services have continued to provide support to unpaid carers throughout the lockdown crisis, through Durham County Carers Support (DCCS) and Family Action-The Bridge Young Carers Service.
The services have been offering assistance through video calls, financial support via Carers’ Break funding, as well as health and well-being sessions.
Carers’ Week, which runs from Monday 8 June until Sunday 14 June, will see special sessions offered online in an extra effort to include the wider community in supporting carers, with the week’s theme ‘making caring visible’, and to offer special encouragement, advice and connections to carers themselves.
Durham County Carers Support, which focuses on adult carers, will have two Virtual Afternoon Tea sessions via Zoom on the Tuesday 9 and Thursday 11 June from 2pm. A ‘Feel Good and Zoom with Gillian Fortune’ session will start on Wednesday 10 June at 10am, the first of a four-week course.
DCCS will also be offering employers support to make their organisation Carer Friendly, including one to one calls with their staff who have a caring role.
Beyond Carers’ Week, the service is operating as normal, apart from face to face visits. Carers can connect to the service via phone, email, social media, Zoom and their web chat service called Tawk, which operates during office hours.
A counselling service is operating via phone and Zoom, with 30 sessions per week. A virtual support group continues to be held every fortnight for those caring for someone with a learning disability. The next session will be held on Tuesday 8 June, from 10.30am. There is also a virtual support group for carers of adults with autism held every fortnight, with the next session on Wednesday 17 June at 1.30pm.
Carers need to be registered with DCCS to access the activities and courses and will need to contact the service to get the log in for the Zoom sessions.
For young carers, one-to-one support continues, with the aim of improving resilience and reducing the negative impacts of caring. Practitioners have also been carrying out doorstep visits to deliver resilience packs to young carers. A grant from Family Action has allowed The Bridge Young Carers Service to support some families financially, who were struggling to cover increased food and utility costs, during the coronavirus pandemic. Practitioners are also in the process of creating bespoke wellbeing packs for each family they are supporting.
The service is still taking referrals and, whilst the service only works with young people who have been referred, it offers training to organisations and schools for those young carers who don’t need one to one level support.
As part of Carers Week, The Bridge are delivering an online young carer awareness training session over Zoom. A Young Carer Ambassador will be helping to deliver this training to share their experiences. Schools and organisations can work towards accreditation of the Young Carers’ Neighbourhood Charter by taking the online training, which will be held via Zoom on Tuesday 9 June at 1pm.
The training is aimed at professionals who may come into contact with young carers, to help them identify young carers and explore how they can be supported best. Training also goes through what The Bridge Young Carers Service can offer and when it may be needed.
There is no eligibility criteria and anyone interested is encouraged to get in touch.
Young Carer Ambassadors will also be using technology to stay connected by holding online meetings over the next few weeks.
A social media campaign will continue alongside all events for young and adult carers, promoting the week’s theme around carer visibility.
More online services to support and connect County Durham residents can be found on the council’s online directory, Locate, at www.durhamlocate.org.uk