Supporting B&NES carers through the coronavirus crisis

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Words by Sam Petherick

A charity which supports thousands of carers in the Bath area has received a £3,000 grant from Quartet Community Foundation’s Coronavirus 2020 Response Fund.

The money will let B&NES Carers’ Centre keep its support line open for longer each day and proactively contact more carers.

The charity says carers often put their caring responsibilities first and, as a result, neglect their own health and wellbeing. It wants to reach out to them to ensure they’re keeping well amid the pandemic.

Quartet Community Foundation has handed out more than £500,000 in grants to small, local causes in Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, helping them to take positive action during and after the coronavirus crisis.

  • Moving services from face-to-face to telephone support

B&NES Carers’ Centre chief executive David Trumper spoke to us about how the grant will benefit his charity.

“Our motivation was we needed to extend the opening times of our support line so that we could offer some reassurance and access to clear and trusted information,” he said.

“We envisage needing to do it for the rest of the year.

“We work with the thousands of adult and young carers in Bath and North East Somerset who are looking after loved ones at home.

“The majority of them will be looking after people who are having to shield [at home] or practice social distancing.

“We’ve also been able to be more proactive in contacting the carers themselves.

“We’ve got about 6,000 carers registered with us. We have so far been able to contact about 700 carers and check in to make sure that they’re OK.”

As well as extending the support line hours, the centre has created a ‘Coronavirus Hub’ on its website.

It includes information on how to create a support plan, emergency planning, urgent care needs, advice and FAQs, as well as resources for young carers and families, tips on getting to grips with technology, staying connected and safeguarding.

All of the charity’s groups, Carer Cafes and face-to-face activities have been suspended in line with national and local guidance.

Mr Trumper said: “About 70% of what we used to do was group work or face to face. Of course, all of that’s now suspended.

“All our staff already had the option or facility to work from home – in the last 12 months we started to use Microsoft Teams and it’s been a bit of a learning curve.

“I think we will come out better in terms of our offer of support for carers.”

  • Carers putting in extra hours during coronavirus crisis

A recent report by Carers UK, titled Caring Behind Closed Doors, set out the reality of community care during the coronavirus.

The survey found “already frustrated, anxious or exhausted” carers are putting in an extra 10 hours a week with those they are looking after.

They are now caring 65 hours a week and many are at risk of burnout.

The report said carers are providing a vital unpaid service to society which is being overlooked.

Since the beginning of lockdown, Quartet has raised more than £1 million for the Coronavirus 2020 Response Fund thanks to generous donations from supporters.