Somerset is celebrating National Carers Week this week (8-14 June) to raise awareness and celebrate the vital role of Somerset’s estimated 50,000 carers.

The annual campaign was launched to highlight the challenges faced by unpaid carers, and to recognise the vital contribution they make to families and communities across the UK. The campaign also seeks to raise awareness about who should be classed as a carer – helping people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access the support they need.

Carer’s assessments can help identify a carer’s support needs, and these can be accessed via Somerset Direct on 0300 790 6275. However, a formal carer’s assessment is not necessary to access support – the Somerset Carers service is free, open to all, and can provide a range of support to those who need it. The service can be reached by phoning 0800 3168600, or by visiting the website: https://somersetcarers.org/

Keeley Rudd, Chief Executive of CCS who provide the Somerset Carers service said “It is absolutely crucial, now more than ever, that we pull together to take care of all the unpaid carers in Somerset. We have all faced additional challenges in our lives at this time, but imagine the difficulties for carers who are unable to get respite from their caring responsibilities or are not able to leave those they care for to get essential supplies and medication?

“Many carers have health concerns of their own and face an uphill struggle on a daily basis, so during carers week we need to sing the praises of unpaid carers from the rooftops. We want Somerset to be aware of the amazing sacrifice our carers make, raising awareness and helping them get the support and recognition they so deserve.

Somerset Carers Service is here through an army of Village and Carers Agents to help wherever possible and to broker support though the amazing volunteers out in communities providing practical help.”

This year, Somerset County Council is celebrating Carers Week by asking carers to get creative and share photos of their work via a new Facebook group, Somerset Creative Carers Connect. Groups are also being set up across the county as part of Somerset Creative Carers Connect, so carers will be able to meet others in their area to build a support network and explore their creativity.

Councillor David Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care at Somerset County Council, said: “Recognising the work of carers has never been more important, and this year sees a special need for those with caring responsibilities to get the recognition and support they deserve.

“As a result of the coronavirus, many people have taken on more caring responsibilities – whether to care for family members or friends who need extra support. Their selflessness in caring for others – often at great personal cost to themselves – is truly an inspiration to us all, and we ask the people of Somerset to join us in honouring our unpaid carers for their heroic work”

For those who are shielding, Somerset-based dementia charity Reminiscence Learning have been offering free weekday activities such as quizzes, story-telling, music, and crafts which can be attended via Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/ReminiscenceLearning/.

Talking café’s – which offer help, advice and support and previously took place in local venues – have also been moved to Facebook Live, with 11am sessions taking place daily: https://www.facebook.com/talkingcafesomerset/

Somerset Community Connect is a partnership which offers a range of support and information relating to the health and social care sector in Somerset:  https://www.somersetcommunityconnect.org.uk/

CCS (The Community Council for Somerset) is an award-winning charity offering a range of support, information, and initiatives to Somerset’s communities: https://ccslovesomerset.org/

Painting of Glastonbury Tor courtesy of Gill’s gallery (Burnham-on-Sea).

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