New support for unpaid carers in Wiltshire

NEW support for unpaid carers in Wiltshire is set to provided as part of a new partnership.

Thousands of people across the county provide help as an unpaid carer to those needing additional support.

The council, alongside the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board (BSW ICB), have a role to ensure those people are provided with respite, support, and opportunities to network with other unpaid carers.

Now, the council has announced Age UK Wiltshire is working in a consortium with Community First, Alzheimer’s Support, Wiltshire Service Users Network, Citizens Advice Wiltshire and Wessex Community Action and many more charities called Carers Together Wiltshire which will provide respite, and a range of support to adult unpaid carers from the age of 18.

The support will include training, carer cafes and awareness raising in the community for unpaid carers. They will also work closely with Wiltshire Council to continue conducting carer’s assessments.

Community First has been awarded the contract for younger adult and young carers from ages five to 25, focusing on support in primary schools and supporting Wiltshire Council with their work with secondary schools and colleges, understanding their rights and what support is available to them and giving them opportunities to carry on doing the things they enjoy – whilst also teaching them key life skills as they grow up.

Both providers will work together to support carers aged 18 to 25 and family support including parent carers.

There is also investment in online support so carers can access training, chats, helpful guides and support at any time.

There will continue to be a Wiltshire Carer Card, which will provide unpaid carers with ID as a carer and record emergency contact details, available as a physical card and a digital app.

From April 1, Carer Support Wiltshire will continue to run its services independently of the council including carer cafés, the Hear to Talk service, family support and activities, carer wellbeing workshops, young carer activities, carer grants and their Bereavement Help Points.

The unpaid carers contract is jointly funded by Wiltshire Council and BSW ICB.

Cllr Jane Davies, cabinet member for adult social care at the council, said: “Our unpaid carers pay a high price for looking after those they care for, day in day out. They make sacrifices and put other people’s needs first.

“We want our unpaid carers to feel supported to be able to enjoy life and achieve their goals and ambitions while they are caring. We want to ensure those people have opportunities to have a break, have support for the person they are caring for and also have access to the many opportunities available to them and a network of peers and those who can help.

“Our new contract recognises the many younger people who fit caring into attending school and doing homework, or those younger adults who are just making plans for their futures while caring for someone. We are ensuring the face-to-face support continues but also there will be online help 24/7 so unpaid carers know they are not alone and they have a network to reach out to.

“We want to also thank Carer Support Wiltshire for the valuable work they have carried out with our unpaid carers over the years and wish them well in the good work they continue to do across the south west.”

Clare O’Farrell, deputy place director at Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, added: “Unpaid carers play an absolutely crucial role across BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire by providing physical, practical and emotional help to those they care for and it is essential that they receive the recognition and support they need.

“This new partnership with Age UK Wiltshire and Community First will provide first class support to children and adult carers across Wiltshire and provide the resources they need to continue to support those they care for.”

Stuart Hall, strategic director of the Wiltshire Parent Carer Council (WPCC), said: “The lives of unpaid carers can be hugely challenging; because of their caring role, many miss out on doing things that others may take for granted, such as social activities or taking a break and this can have a huge impact on their health, wellbeing, employment opportunities and finances.

“We are delighted that the needs of unpaid carers continue to be recognised and prioritised in Wiltshire.

“The WPCC looks forward to working closely with Age UK and Community First to ensure the needs of young carers and parent carers of children and young people with SEND are identified, recognised and supported.”

Lynn Gibson, CEO of Community First, said: “We are excited and proud to have the opportunity to work in a new way with Wiltshire Council, the ICB and partners, to provide support for young carers and young adult carers across Wiltshire and we thank all of our funders and supporters who enable this crucial work.”

And Sarah Cardy, CEO of Age UK, also backed the plan.

“We are looking forward to working in partnership with Wiltshire Council, health services and voluntary sector colleagues to provide much needed support to unpaid carers,” she said.

“We will have a dedicated team of people to walk alongside unpaid carers to help with the many challenges they face.

“Our partnership approach will provide easy access to early support to help improve the lives of unpaid carers.”

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