National Carers Week runs from 8-14 June and aims to raise awareness of caring and highlight the challenge many carers face. The coronavirus pandemic has made many people step forward to support vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours.
But in other situations, the challenges for carers have been heightened because they cannot visit and spend time with loved ones who are in hospital, care homes or in residential care due to the risk of spreading infection. Others have had to manage loved ones on their own at home because day care facilities are closed, working people cannot go to work and the usual options for a change of scenery have been limited. Plus family members and friends have not been able to visit to provide their usual support. So this year more than any other, we pay tribute to the 9m carers in the UK.
Carers Events in Hackney
There are a number of events happening next week for carers in Hackney. Details below:
Carers Week ELFT 2020. - timetable of events Carers First - Hackney Carers Week - contact Carers First for more details
In preparation for Carers Week, we asked some of our carers to tell us what it is like for them. Below, we hear from Mary* who is a carer for her husband in Hackney.
How long you have been a carer? I've cared for my husband for about 20 years
Why does he need a carer? Because he has a mental health illness and can't do things on his own
What types of things do you have to do for them? I have to get him out of bed, help him to dress, get him something to eat, motivate him to do things, encourage him to join activities even when he doesn't want to do them.
What is the hardest thing about being a carer? Dealing with my husband's condition. One minute he's up, the next minute he's very down. It makes me feel very stressed.
What is the best thing about being a carer? When I see him feeling happy, that makes me feel happy. Sometimes he'll help me, for example to make a cake. We'll take it out of the oven and know that it's been a joint effort.
Can you say three words that sum up what being a carer is like? Happy, sad and stressful
How do you cope when things are difficult? Sometimes I put some music on and get carried away with it - I have a playlist with Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.
How has it been since the coronavirus pandemic began, and shielding and social distancing was introduced? I've been focusing on the positives. The warm weather has been great, sitting outside and listening to music. I've been trying out different recipes which give me a sense of achievement when they come out of the oven.
What is your top tip to other carers? Don't take it too seriously. Get yourself some 'me-time'. Keep loving the person you care for. Try not to think of it as a burden, you're giving support to someone who needs it.
* Mary is not her real name
Interviewed by Alice McCreadie
Carer Support Worker, City and Hackney