The importance of support groups for carers
Monday 8th June to Sunday 14th June 2020 marks Carers Week. Carers UK have teamed up with charities including Age UK and Rethink Mental Illness with the aim of Making Caring Visible.
New research conducted by Carers UK, as part of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission has shown that incredibly there are 4.5 million additional people caring for older, disabled or seriously ill relatives or friends since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carers UK conducted a survey of 7,286 carers and found that 81% of carers have felt lonely or socially isolated as a result of their caring role. This number rose even higher, to 86% when carers were providing 50 hours or more of care a week.
A third of carers said that they felt lonely or isolated because they did not feel they were able to talk to their friends about their caring role. A third or carers also said that not being able to afford to participate in social activities contributed to them feeling lonely.
Support groups are incredibly important, not only for those receiving care but also for their carers. Charities such as The Silverlining Charity and Headway provide incredible, much needed support to their members and carers and even during the lockdown have continued to have virtual meetings. Having attended support group meetings for both charities, I have seen the amazing support that they provide. The charities can provide advice and support on important issues such as welfare benefits or support with returning to work. They can be much more than this though, they can be a safe space for cares to see that they are not alone and allow them to talk to others who understand the situation they are in. The research has shown that carers understandably find it difficult to talk to their friends who may not fully understand their situation and so groups like this are invaluable.
Speaking to Carers UK, one carer explained that “importantly we listen, care and share our feelings and have quite a few tears but always a lot of laughter”. Attending these support groups and listening to the stories of their members and the amazing support provided by their carers, I saw just how important these groups are. Their free advice groups remove the financial worry for carers of not being able to afford to participate but also shows just how important donations are for these charities. You can donate to The Silverlining Charity here and to Headway here. If you are caring for a loved one with a brain injury, advice and support can be found through Headway or The Silverlining Charity. Carers UK can also provide a wealth of information and support.