A CHARITY which offers vital respite to those who spend their lives caring for others is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
The Association of Carers supports individuals and families throughout Hastings and Rother.
It has grown significantly in the last three years, from providing one service to around 15 carers per year to providing four services helping around 80 carers.
There are now four part-time staff based at Jackson Hall in Portland Place, and a pool of around 80 dedicated volunteers.
Sarah Corrie, deputy services manager, is committed to raising the profile of the charity in order to reach those who do not identify themselves as carers, or who are not aware that help is at hand.
She said: “Carers by their nature are very selfless people. Our aim is to raise the awareness of carers within the community, and at the same time to get people to think about what other people’s circumstances are.”
There are currently five services offered by the Association of Carers.
The main one is the Respite and Befriending service, where volunteers spend three hours a week with the cared for person, building a long-term relationship and giving carers the opportunity to have some time to themselves.
The Young Carers Befriending service is targeted towards young people, offering them the chance to take a break, and supporting them with their studies if necessary.
Talk and Support provides carers with a listening ear and the opportunity to discuss their caring role in confidence. Computer Help at Home is about teaching carers how to use their computer in ways that will support them in their caring role, such as using Skype or online shopping and banking, enabling them to have more time to themselves and reducing their isolation.
In addition to these Peer Support provides carers with the opportunity to come together in small groups and participate in a joint activity.
There are several ways in which carers are put into contact with the charity.
They can get in touch themselves, or be referred by social services or other charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society or Care for the Carers.
The figures are widely available in the public domain, but still make for startling reading.
A carer is defined as someone who looks after a family member or friend who is unwell, frail or disabled. They can be any age and the care they provide is unpaid.
One in eight adults in the UK fall into this category, which is around six million people.
These individuals save the economy £119 billion per year, an average of £18,473 per carer
In Hastings and Rother there are around 20,000 carers, and at least 4,000 of these are providing more than 50 hours of care each week. People providing high levels of care are twice as likely to be permanently sick or disabled, than the general population, which makes respite offered by the Association of Carers even more valuable.
The charity is always on the lookout for volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. No formal qualifications are required, and new volunteers are offered induction and training courses, before being carefully matched with service users.
For more information on the Association of Carers contact the charity on 01424 722309.