LOUISE VLADI, Charity Manager of the Association of Carers gives some facts and figures about unpaid caring, and how the organisation helps this hidden army of care givers.

There are over 62,000 unpaid Carers in East Sussex, and three in five of us are likely to become a Carer at some point in our lives.  With these figures in mind, it might be worth learning a little more about the immense value of unpaid Carers, which some of us, unless personally affected ourselves, have not thought about.

An unpaid Carer is anyone who looks after someone who would be unable to manage without their help.  Typically, the person needing support is a member of the family; this has the advantage of allowing the person to stay in their own home, in a familiar environment.  Of course, in this case, the Carer will know the person well, being aware of their emotional needs as well as their physical ones. Who better than to carry out this role, being experts on the people they look after?

Apart from being most suitable, they also save taxpayers a lot of money: the care provided is worth approximately a whopping £132 billion each year!  To put it in perspective, that’s a saving to the public purse of around £2.5 billion a week, or £15.1 million an hour.

But this free care doesn’t come easy and can come at a high cost to the Carers themselves in terms of time, energy, and commitment.  That’s where the Association of Carers comes in, providing a whole range of free, volunteer-led support services to unpaid Carers in East Sussex.  These services include befriending & respite, talk & support, computer help at home, Carers lunch clubs, and Carers cafés.

The respite and befriending service allows a Carer to have a few hours of free time at the same time and day each week, whilst a volunteer sits with their loved one.  For someone who is providing 24/7 care to their loved one, 7 days a week, this break is often a lifesaver.  As one Carer explains: “This break gives me something to look forward to. It’s so great to have someone like this and gives me some freedom.  I feel secure for the first time in ages in leaving my wife for a bit.”

If you think you could spare a few hours a week to help, please get in touch.  Full training and support are provided, expenses paid and there is no personal care involved, so don’t worry if you’re not very mobile yourself.  We even have drivers to take you!

Or maybe you are a Carer who would benefit from the free services.  Does it sound too good to be true?  It’s not. Call 01424 722309 or visit www.associationofcarers.org.uk.