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Opinion: We must do more to support Norfolk's unpaid carers

PUBLISHED: 11:27 29 November 2017

We should more to support our legion of carers, says Pete Kelley.

We should more to support our legion of carers, says Pete Kelley.

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Opinion: Pete Kelley is in awe of the dedication of our unpaid carers.

When I was working, I used to get stressed sometimes - as we all do. And in tough moments, I’d tell myself: ‘No office job is like digging ditches for a living, in the rain.’ Or ’No one’s going to die if I make a mistake.’

It put things in perspective.

But what if your job really was unrelenting, and someone might die? What if you never got a day off? What if there was no retirement, and it was - pretty much - all down to you, day after day?

Frankly, most of us don’t know we’re born, compared with what unpaid carers do.

Since becoming involved with Age UK Norwich, I’ve seen some of it… and I’m in awe. There are heroes hidden behind so many front doors.

And ‘hidden’ is the key word, here.

Our city-based charity has a lot to offer members of this stalwart army, often elderly themselves. Our problem is finding them.

That’s where every reader of this paper can help.

As Age UK Norwich carers support worker Ellen Oliver told me this week: “We arrange a lot of activities, especially for carers, because we know they need - and deserve - support. But, by the very nature of their role, it is hard for us to let them know what is available.”

The issue came up because I was talking to Ellen about a series of informative meetings she runs, mainly for older carers looking after people living with dementia but open to other carers over 50, too.

They tackle a range of practical issues… like medication options, welfare rights, scams and how to avoid them, how to stay well as a carer. But sometimes, the most important aspect is the meeting up.

Ms Oliver said: “It’s a chance for people to share their experiences, swap tips and - above all - discover that they are not alone - that others understand what they are going through.”

There are regular sessions at Bowthorpe Church, the Assembly House, St Andrew’s Church Hall, Eaton and at the Marion Road Centre. And you can bring the person you’re caring for. Full details are available from Ellen on 01603 496333 or email ellen.oliver@ageuknorwich.org.uk.

So if you know someone in the city who is a carer, well… you might feel powerless to help them, but we can. Please let them know. If you’re outside the city, our sister-charity Age UK Norfolk will be able to help, too. Call them on 01603 787111.

Carers should not be alone.

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