By Andrew Holt
National volunteering charity TimeBank has been awarded £256,273 by the Big Lottery Fund to support carers in an innovative volunteering project with Carers UK.
The two-year grant from the Reaching Communities Programme will fund the Carers Together project in Birmingham.
This will provide face to face support to 70 carers in the area, plus tailored online advice to 300 carers across the country.
It will aim to increase awareness of the care, welfare and health services available, increase confidence and help carers cope with the emotional challenges and stresses of caring.
More than six million people in the UK are providing unpaid care for an ill, frail or disabled family member or friend. Caring can be a rich source of satisfaction in people’s lives.
But without the right support it can bring ill health, poverty and social isolation.
In a survey for Carers UK, more than half of the 4,000 carers consulted said caring had a negative impact on their relationships with their partner, family and friends and over 70% experienced mental health problems, including depression.
TimeBank will draw on its extensive experience of volunteer mentoring to train current and former carers as volunteer mentors and expert online advisers to provide advice and support to other carers.
Helen Walker, chief executive of TimeBank, said: “We know from the wide range of projects we have delivered over the last 12 years that volunteer mentoring is a powerful tool. I’m delighted that with Carers Together, we have the opportunity to apply that learning to support a new and immensely important group of people who are often socially isolated and struggling to cope.”
Helena Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, added: “Our most recent research* for Carers Week shows that what carers are missing out on most is information and advice, and positive and constructive emotional support.
"Caring can take a huge toll on your life: nine out of ten carers have their health affected by caring, one in six give up work to care and many feel very negative about the future, their ability to work, manage relationships, and what their income will be.
"Caring for someone can be hugely isolating and feels like a journey that you are on alone. And everyone’s situation is different. This is where working with TimeBank for carers on this project can make a real positive difference in their lives.”
Both charities consulted widely to shape the project; with individual carers, Carers UK Birmingham Branch, Birmingham Carers’ Centre, Carers’ Association and Birmingham City Council.
Carers will be represented on an Action Group based in Birmingham which will steer the project and review its progress.
TimeBank hopes the Carers Together project will be up and running by this Autumn.
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