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Supporting unpaid carers through coronavirus

Mike Seaton from Carer Support South Lakes who hopes to climb to Kendal Castle 111 times in 24 hrs

As the government announces new restrictions to head off a second peak in coronavirus cases this autumn, charity officials say it’s even more important to look after unpaid carers.

“Carers that look after loved ones, around the clock and unpaid, make an enormous contribution to society,” explains Mike Seaton from Carer Support South Lakes.

“During the pandemic their caring role been made even more difficult as many of the respite and support systems are not available.

“We’ve adapted the way we work and we’re providing one to one support, guidance and information over the phone and doing assessments. Our counselling service is over the phone or via Zoom. And we’ve got lots of online advice too but we know this doesn’t replace the social contact that many carers appreciate alongside a break from their caring duties.”

L-R: Josh, Darren and Lisa, front row Jacob

One young carer who can usually access help from Carers Support South Lakes, is 17-year old Josh Marshall from the Cumbria, Lancashire border. He helps parents Darren and Lisa, look after 15-year-old Jacob who needs constant care because of a rare condition.

Lisa said: “Over the last six months Jacob has been at home 24/7 and we’ve felt completely forgotten with no activities for Jacob. Jacob’s youth and after-school clubs weren’t open and neither was his school and this was a massive loss to him. Jacob loves contact with others and he’s had none of that. Things have improved with Jacob going back to school.

“It’s also been difficult for Josh, who’s missed out on contact with his peers via residentials and other groups events organised by Carer Support South Lakes, not being possible.

“With the threat of a possible second wave of coronavirus we’re worried that it will impact on us again. Jacob needs continuity, structure, lots of social interaction and we don’t want schools to close again. There are 500,000 unpaid carers in the UK, it’s one of the hardest roles anyone can undertake and extra support and recognition would really help,” added Lisa.

Mike Seaton from Carer Support South Lakes says the charity is working hard to find new ways to deliver their service to the unpaid carers of the South Lakes, such as support groups via Zoom, activity packs for young carers and advice and support on carers wellbeing.

Carer Support South Lakes is an independent charity based in Kendal providing services and support to 1,250 unpaid carers of all ages in South Lakeland.

A carer is anyone who volunteers to look after friends or family who are ill, struggle with disability or addiction and who cannot cope without their support. There are 12,000 unpaid carers across the county, many give up their income, education, employment prospects or pension rights to care for a loved one, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Carer Support South Lakes can be contacted via their website, carersupportsouthlakes.org.uk or by calling 01539 815970.