Carer Support South Lakes has launched a new online forum Carer Connect, where unpaid carers can connect with each other across Cumbria to get support and information, around the clock.
The charity believes Carer Connect is the first of its kind for carers in terms of its scope and the way in which carers join the online forum.
Carer Connect could benefit an estimated 56,000 unpaid carers in Cumbria and is made possible by a grant from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by the National Lottery. The fund supports those most affected by the virus.
Announcing the new initiative on Carers Rights Day (Thursday 26 November), the charity’s chief operating officer, Debi Marsden, explains why the timing of this project is so vital:
“COVID-19 has really highlighted the issue of acute social isolation and the importance of support and conversations for carers, which is why Carer Connect is needed right now.
“Available 24/7, it’s predominantly a social space with professional services and support built in. This safe and moderated online forum is for carers of all ages, with groups for young carers, adult and parent carers and those caring for loved ones with dementia.
“It’s place where people can seek individual support from carers with experience and the charity’s support workers. There are also wellbeing activities, such as yoga and mindfulness sessions, and carers can contribute to campaigns that help inform statutory services.
“If successful, and if further funding can be secured, it could be extended regionally and hopefully national,” added Debi Marsden.
Carer Support South Lakes hopes Carers Rights Day, and its theme of ‘Know Your Rights’, will help many thousands of people who do not currently identify as a carer.
The charity urges carers to better recognise their caring role so that they can get the practical and emotional support they need. That includes a benefits check, finding out about practical support and connecting with others.
One of five carer support charities in Cumbria, the Kendal-based Carer Support South Lakes provides services and support to 1,350 unpaid carers in South Lakeland, aged between six and 98-years-old. They think that’s a fraction of the number of people who could qualify for support.
Carer Support South Lakes can be contacted via their website, carersupportsouthlakes.org.uk or by calling 01539 815970.