Carers UK has teamed up with the volunteering charity Timebank on a new project called Carers Together.
The project matches carers who need support with volunteer mentors who understand first hand what caring is like because they have cared themselves. They connect online via email and websites.
Marie cares 24/7 for her daughter and explains how regular online contact with a mentor is helping her in her caring role.
“I don’t have anyone to talk to about caring. I find it very difficult to confide in family and friends as I feel as if I’m failing in my role or I’m making a fuss. Having someone to talk to has really helped me have an outlet for my thoughts and feelings. Caring does make me feel lonely and isolated. My daughter and I are together 24/7, she is even taught at home by the local authority so there is no respite. We tend to stay at home as she finds going out difficult and it’s just easier to stay in. My mentor suggested I make a note each day when I accomplish an important action such as a phone call or sending an email. This has been very useful to me in seeing the positives that I achieve each day. They have been able to signpost me to other organisations and I feel more confident about doing so. As a result of ‘talking’ to my mentor I have requested a carer’s assessment which I think will really help me. I definitely feel less alone as there is someone who will listen to me and I won’t be judged.”
Mike is a former carer who volunteers his time to work as an online mentor with Carers Together.
“For the last ten years I worked in a hospice where I organised carer support groups so I got to know a lot about the problems faced by carers. I also cared for my wife for some years when she had cancer. I felt that I understood, from these experiences, quite a lot about caring so when I retired I decided to continue to do something in the field. Caring can be very isolating emotionally because it can be difficult to talk about what is happening. Someone at the end of an e-mail can be very useful. I’m surprised how people are able to say very personal and intimate things in an e-mail that they might find difficult to say ‘face to face’. I get a sense that for some of them it’s a huge relief to be able to say things that are a real burden. I find it very rewarding that carers are able to trust me with difficult and personal details about the stresses they are facing.There are thousands of carers out there, many of whom feel lonely and uncertain about where to go for help. Often they think that they’re the only one with the problem but if you have been a carer you will know this isn’t true. You don’t need to be an expert, just willing to try to see things from their point of view and to share some of your experience.”
The scheme also offers face to face mentoring if you live in Birmingham, and is looking for volunteers in the West Midlands.
If you live in England and would like to be put in touch with an online mentor or volunteer your time to help other carers, contact Timebank on 0121 236 2531 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information visit timebank.org.uk/carers-together
Nearest tube – Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
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