Local service provides help and support to carers across Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 16:52 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:52 10 May 2019
Around 100,000 people living in Norfolk look after friends or family members unpaid, who due to illness, disability or an addiction can't cope without their support. Find out how Carers Matter Norfolk can help.
If you are one of the seven million carers across the UK, you may feel lonely or isolated, need a break and want to access support.
"When you become a carer there can be a whole host of practical financial and emotional issues for you to deal with," says Kevin Vaughan, head of service at Carers Matter Norfolk. "Many people have to balance caring, work and family; sometimes resulting in giving up work or retiring early. The responsibility of caring for another person can be very daunting."
But help is available, explains Kevin. "Norfolk County Council and the local NHS are investing in carer's support over the coming years, working with us at Carers Matter Norfolk to help adult and young carers and their families get the advice and guidance they need."
Here are five ways that Carers Matter Norfolk can help you.
Free phone advice line
Do you need some help, advice and a little reassurance? Do you know if you can claim carer's allowance, carer's credit or Pension Credit (carer top-up)?
You can chat with an experienced advisor on Carers Matter Norfolk's free phone advice line, on 0800 083 1148, which offers support for carers across the Norfolk or those caring for someone living in the county, seven days a week.
The line is open from 8am-8pm Monday-Friday, 4pm-8pm on Saturdays and 8am-noon on Sundays and the team of advisers can offer help and support on a wide range of issues, from information and advice on carer's allowance to emergency planning.
Whether you need emotional support, welfare, benefits, housing advice or other practical tips to access entitlements, Carers Matter Norfolk offers free, one-to-one support through their team of highly experienced Carer Connectors.
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A Carer Connector can offer tailored support to help carers to maintain their health and wellbeing and offer in-depth, complex advice on practical matters, such as form-filling and how to apply for carer's allowance. They can also help with advocacy and representation.
"Carers often experience unique emotional issues related to the caring role," says Kevin. "Being a carer can cause internal emotional conflict - for example, for some, the 'carer' label can be stigmatising, as one role takes over another, while other carers can really struggle with the loss of a changed life."
For this reason, Carers Matter Norfolk provides bespoke support through a free carer counselling service.
The number and duration of counselling sessions is based on need and decided by you and the organisation's experienced counselling team. Sessions can take place on the phone or online, through Skype, Facetime, Twitter and Facebook.
Education and training
"The unpaid care workforce currently dwarves the paid carer workforce - yet often no real training is given," says Kevin. "To help those needing support, we have worked with carers to map 450 resources and created the UK's first dedicated carer e-learning portal."
Adult and young carers can access a wide range of care training courses at www.carersmatternorfolkelearning.org.uk. Topics include everything from general healthcare and wellbeing to first aid, infection, nutrition and how to navigate the healthcare system.
"Carers Matter Norfolk offers carers across the region a voice in the community," says Kevin. Carers can sign up for free membership of Carers Voice. It allows them to share their views, keep in touch with eachother and attend one of over 140 peer support groups.
As a result of the group, last year Carers Matter Norfolk worked with Carers Voice and Norfolk County Council to launch a Carers Charter for Norfolk, detailing the rights and services offered to carers across the county.
The organisation has also worked with the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, and others, to create a Carers Passport which allows those continuing to care for their cared-for in hospital to access help, support and concessions.
If you are a carer, or know someone who is, and would like to find out more about the support on offer, please visit the Carers Matter website.