Weekend Diagnosis: Don’t forget the army of volunteers this Christmas

Published: 17 December 2015

Mairead McAlindenThis Weekend Diagnosis is from Mairead McAlinden, our Chief Executive

For many people, Christmas truly is a wonderful time of the year – festivities in full swing, spending time with friends and family and being thankful for our health and wellbeing are just some of the things on the seasonal agenda. However, for some people, Christmas and the colder weather can bring extra burdens – loneliness, financial worries, flu and colds – which can add to existing health conditions and caring responsibilities. These pressures can have a huge impact on individuals and carers, particularly unpaid carers or those who may not even realise that they are a carer.

We think that there are more than 32,000 people across Torbay and South Devon who play an absolutely vital role in looking after a loved one, friend or neighbour. For some this role will have developed over time while others will have assumed the responsibilities suddenly following an illness or injury. Currently on our carers register, we have over 3,000 people registered with us to receive the free support and advice that is available to them. So we know that there are many, many more unpaid carers out there currently not accessing the support that’s available to them.

Our staff want to support carers in the vital contribution you make. We have dedicated Carers Centres in Paignton, Brixham and Torquay where you can drop in or call for advice, information or support, or just pop in for a cup of tea and a biscuit. Health Trainers are available to provide one to one support to help carers look after their own health and wellbeing and we also have a dedicated service for young adult carers aged between 16 and 25 years. There are also many community and voluntary sector groups that do fantastic work and we can help you to find the support that’s right for you.

Next year we will continue to work in partnership with Rowcroft Hospice to provide a free course aimed at local carers who are looking after someone with a life-limiting condition or illness. The course is designed to help carers work through a range of issues and provides support on coping with an uncertain future, developing ways of coping with the effects of an illness and finding the right help and support. This is just one of the many courses we offer, visit our website for more information.

Without the dedication of those unpaid carers in our community many frail and vulnerable people – young and old – would not have the independence and quality of life they do. We must recognise and support carers who do such vital work. If we can help, please contact us to find out about the wide range of support that is available to you from the Trust, local voluntary groups and in your local community. To find out more you can contact Signposts for Carers on 01803 666620 or visit our carers pages.