Fears Sheffield carers meetings will fold

Carer representative Chris Sterry
Carer representative Chris Sterry
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A Sheffield carer is calling on other families at attend meetings amid fears they will end up being scrapped.

Chris Sterry is a representative on the Carers Service Improvement Forum (Carers SIF) and regularly attends meetings at Sheffield Council. The Learning Disabilities SIF has already folded and Mr Sterry is worried the Carers SIF may head the same way if more people don’t attend.

He fears the meetings will be cancelled in future and is urging other families to attend. The meetings give carers the chance to discuss forthcoming changes and speak to social care officers including the director of adult social care Phil Holmes.

Mr Sterry looks after his 77-year-old wife and also their 51-year-old daughter. He prefers not to name his daughter but says she has cerebral palsy with a number of physical disabilities and also has autism and learning difficulties.

The meetings are held at two monthly intervals at Sheffield Town Hall. Mr Sterry said: “It’s a combination of people not knowing about the meetings and struggling to attend because they are carers. There are 60,000 carers in Sheffield but only 9,000 are registered with Sheffield Carers Centre.

“A lot of people don’t appreciate they are carers or don’t like the term. Ask yourself - are you looking after somebody and not being paid for it? If so you are entitled to attend any of the Carer SIF meetings.

“It’s important to have a voice and unfortunately, there are limited facilities to have one. If the Carers SIF goes then it will be further reduced.”

Phil Holmes, director of adult services, said the council was working with carers to understand how best to hear their views.

He said: We want to develop a number of different approaches to be able to hear from all carers and families about the things that matter to them. The carers who work with us give up a lot of their time and we want to make sure that this isn’t too onerous and time consuming for them otherwise people will be dissuaded from getting involved.

“The Carers SIF hasn’t recently been well attended so we are looking again at what the best ways are to support carers.”

Mr Sterry can be contacted on carervoice@gmail.com and there is further information at Sheffield Carers Centre, 5 Young Street, telephone 0114 2788 942.