Carers Week: Fife Carers Centre offers a listening ear and a wealth of support

Carers Week runs from June 5 to 11, 2023.Carers Week runs from June 5 to 11, 2023.
Carers Week runs from June 5 to 11, 2023.
Carers are people who care for someone who can’t manage their life without help because of illness, disability, frailty, or addiction.

Often we can suddenly find ourselves in a situation where we are providing care for those around us without giving ourselves a second thought.

There are many unpaid carers living in Fife – including some who don’t think of themselves as carers – and during this Carers Week it’s important to share the message that they are not alone and there is support out there for them.

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Carers Week runs from June 5 to 11 and is an annual campaign to raise carer awareness, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities across the country.

The team at Fife Carers Centre can offer advice and support to unpaid carers living across the Kingdom.The team at Fife Carers Centre can offer advice and support to unpaid carers living across the Kingdom.
The team at Fife Carers Centre can offer advice and support to unpaid carers living across the Kingdom.

It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.

This year’s theme is ‘recognising and supporting carers in the community’.

Individuals and organisations across Fife are coming together this week to provide support for carers and running activities showing the vital role carers play and to draw attention to just how important caring is.

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Fife Carers Centre, which is based in Commercial Street in Kirkcaldy, is at the heart of this year’s campaign locally.

Carers Week 2023Carers Week 2023
Carers Week 2023

Jon the information officer from Fife Carers Centre explains the range of work the team do to support unpaid carers.

Jon said: “We support unpaid carers in a variety of ways, including help with applying for welfare benefits and grants; peer support and befriending groups; advocacy for individuals and problem solving, ideas and tips to ease the caring role.

"We also make referrals to other partner organisations for further help and support. We provide workshops, information sessions and learning groups to help build carers knowledge and experience.”

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The centre also has a team of specialist support workers available at hospitals across Fife to help support individuals and answer questions about their caring role.

The team are there to support unpaid carers wherever they are in the Kingdom. Between April 2021 and March last year, 1682 carers new to the service contacted Fife Carers Centre, and around 700 carers already known to the team returned for support.

With the centre’s team able to help individuals to apply for benefits and grants they are entitled to, in 2021/22, they helped carers to access over £1.5 million worth of benefits to support them in their caring role.

The support that’s on offer to those who are in need of it is invaluable.

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Jacqueline, one of the carers to be supported by the team, explained: “Having Sandra from Fife Carers step into my life was like a light bulb going on in a very dark tunnel. I’ve been coping for years with my mum and dad’s progressively deteriorating.

“When mum was diagnosed with a terminal illness and I was already supporting my dad with his ailing health I hit an all-time low. I was no longer coping. I was just surviving but I never thought to ask for help or even consider why I would, let alone have the time or energy to arrange it.

"I met Sandra at my mother’s hospital bedside and the difference, even in the first few weeks, is immeasurable.

"She navigates the forms, finds out my entitlement to allowances, helps arrange carers and importantly she asked what mattered to me; she said, I hear you. This is powerful and way beyong just support. It’s personal. I realised that I too was entitled to have ‘me’ time – even if it’s just a quiet cuppa.

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"I urge anyone who is in a carer role to take up the help available. It’s the difference between struggling and having a life to live.”

Jacqueline is not alone in finding the Carers Centre a huge help. Susan took up the role of unpaid carer for her husband after he suffered a stroke.

As well as trying to be strong and supportive for her loved one, she was having to cope with all of the outside pressures that they normally shared as part of family life. In addition, a range of medical decisions were being made that she didn’t necessarily agree with but felt unable to challenge due to feeling unheard.

Over time Susan felt she was being side-lined and ignored by some services in regards to her husband’s care when a referral from the hospital to Fife Carers Centre put her in touch with Veronica, one of the six staff the centre has located at Fife’s hospitals.

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They met for a chat about the types of support that are available and Veronica provided a listening ear, advice and guidance, as well as attending meetings with Susan helping her to understand and reflect on the information for her husband’s care.

Susan said: “Having that outlet makes you feel you are not alone.”

They discussed issues including guardianship and the benefits of having this in place, as well as looking at benefits and entitlements. Once Susan had guardianship she said she felt more in control and more able to be involved in her husband’s care.

For Susan, the main benefit of working with Veronica was “having someone to share the journey with and who understood the struggles”.

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After fighting for a year and a half, Susan’s husband has been able to return to the family home and they are moving to the next stage of the caring journey – and Veronica will be there to continue to provide support.

Susan added: “In your darkest days and at a time you have nobody you are not alone. If you need someone to hear you, please get in touch with Fife Carers Centre.”

A series of events and activities are planned each day focusing on many aspects of caring including health and social care, work and employment, young and older carers and mental health and wellbeing.

Among the special events planned by the Carers Centre for Carers Week are a stay safe online session for carers, a picnic and walk in Ravenscraig Park and a picnic at the Botanic Gardens in St Andrews.

To find out more about Fife Carers Centre visit, email [email protected] or call 01592 205472.

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