Action to support Sheffield’s 60,000 unpaid carers cope with vital role

Sheffield’s estimated 60,000 unpaid carers, including 7,000 young people, are receiving help to ensure they feel more valued and supported.
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Events that have taken part to help Sheffield City Council deliver on a carers’ strategy launched last year included a Carers’ Roadshow held at the Winter Gardens, at which 33 support agencies held stalls. That enabled 1,728 contacts between carers and support organisations and 2,041 pieces of information being given out.

Janet Kerr, director of operations, told a meeting of the council’s adult health and social care policy committee (March 20) that feedback from the event showed that all the carers who took part felt more valued.

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A carer is someone of any age who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support.

Sheffield unpaid carers are doing an important role and work is taking place to increase the support that they receiveSheffield unpaid carers are doing an important role and work is taking place to increase the support that they receive
Sheffield unpaid carers are doing an important role and work is taking place to increase the support that they receive

Around 8,000 carers live in poverty in Sheffield, the committee heard. The life chances and health of young carers are seriously affected by their role, an inquiry by an All-Party Parliamentary Group of MPs has found.

The committee report noted: “As the majority of carers are female (57%) the pandemic is likely to have exacerbated gender inequality as women are more likely to provide care and change their circumstances in order to care, eg reduce hours in work / leave work, etc.

Inequalities

“However, caring is still satisfying and a source of pride for many. We need to help our carers continue to care, if they want to, and reduce the inequalities they can face.”

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The Sheffield Carers’ Centre (https://www.sheffieldcarers.org.uk/), a group which gives support and advice, has created an involvement network which currently has approximately 100 active members who share their lived experience to shape services and policies.

The centre and the organisation Sheffield Young Carers (https://www.sheffieldyoungcarers.org.uk/) have been running training sessions to help raise carers’ awareness of what support is available.

To find out more about support services for adult carers, go online to https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/social-care/adults/carer-support. More details about young carers are available here: https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/social-care/children/young-carers-assessment

Ms Kerr said that carers will be even more important in future.

Priorities over the next year include identifying more carers and ensuring they are linked to appropriate support, advice and networks. This includes publicity to enable people to realise that they are actually carers, something that NHS England said takes an average of two years.

Valued

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A report to the committee said: “As we continue to embed and further implement our Carers Delivery Plan, our ambition is Sheffield is a Carer Friendly City. We want carers to be valued, supported and recognised.”

Coun Sophie Thornton said: “Obviously we need to do a lot more to support carers and young carers. It is disappointing that we didn’t see other groups backing our proposals for a young carer’s bus pass in the budget but that’s where we are.

“Self-neglect is on the increase. If the delivery plan is largely on track, then why aren’t seeing this decrease? I appreciate there’ll be external pressure from the cost-of-living crisis, for example, but I hope we’re not missing something from within the plan itself.”

She was told that a lot of good work has taken place but more needs to happen to highlight what services are available, especially among agencies that the council works with, to further raise awareness and reach more people.