Did you know there are over 6 million unpaid carers in the UK? That means 1 in 10 adults in the UK is a carer. Around half of carers in England said their health had been affected because of the care they provide. Many give up an income, future employment prospects and pension rights to become a family carer.
It is also thought that up to 700,000 children could be caring for family members or friends. Recent statistics show that an average of 74% of young carers suffer from stress, anxiety or depression due to their caring role.
What we do
Carers in Bedfordshire is a charity which helps family carers and former carers cope with the mental and physical stresses arising from their role. They offer assistance such as practical help, advice, training, advocacy, support and information. A family carer is anyone, of any age, who as a part of their normal life, offers help and support to a relative or friend who could not manage without them.
How we began
The charity was established in 2004 by Yvonne Clark. A former carer herself, Yvonne realised the lack of support for unpaid carers of family members and loved ones. Today, Carers in Bedfordshire supports nearly 5,000 unpaid carers. Although this is a huge growth from the start in 2004, there are still an estimated 40,000 unpaid carers across Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire; we want to reach all of them.
Services offered include telephone, email and text support, home and centre visits, emotional and practical support, information, advice and advocacy, carers support groups, social events and outings, training courses and a quarterly magazine. They have offices in Bedford, Biggleswade and Leighton Buzzard as well as a Carers Lounge in Bedford Hospital.
Tony and Angela’s story
Tony Young cares for his 72 year old wife Angela, who has advanced stage Alzheimer’s.
“5 years ago, tests confirmed Angela had the early stages of dementia but they couldn’t give us any timescales as to how quickly it would progress. It was during a routine hospital visit two years ago that my daughter pointed out the Carers Lounge and persuaded me to talk to them. I wasn’t sure but went along and registered anyway and last September finally went along to one of their Carers Rest support groups.”
“It was such a relief to meet others going through exactly the same things as I was.”
“It was such a relief to meet others going through the same things, having the same uncertainties and worries. At the meetings we do have a laugh and forget our problems for a while. Mick makes the group sessions great fun. It is truly ‘me time’ and I look forward to it every month.
I resisted putting Angela in a home for as long as possible as I wanted to look after her myself but it became impossible. The final straw was on a holiday when she bolted from our villa, completely unaware of what she was doing. She went downhill very quickly after that so we decided she needed to go into a home for her own safety.”
“People need to learn more about Carers in Bedfordshire and Dementia too as is it very complex.”
“The worst thing is that I have lost the person I married 55 years ago, I would give anything to just get a glimpse of my wife as she was, but I know that will never happen. I will do my utmost to be with her every day for as long as she lives. The best thing about being her carer is that I am in control of making her life as happy as it can be. We have three wonderful children who support me every step of the way and grandchildren to keep me young!
I would recommend Carers in Bedfordshire to anyone in my situation, it really does make a difference; they are a fantastic organisation.”
Could you help?
Could you be a befriender and give 2 hours freedom to a carer living with a relative with dementia?
2 hours a week companionship to a person living well with dementia at home means their relative can have some very precious time to themselves.
To find out more about this rewarding role, please contact our Dementia Befriender Coordinator Lisa Head on 0300 111 1919.
For more information about the services and support groups offered by Carers in Bedfordshire please call 0300 111 1919 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.