A CUMBRIAN organisation is expanding a revolutionary way of supporting people who care for their loved ones.
Carer Support South Lakes launched Carer-Connect in October 2020 with Lottery funding to develop new ways of helping Carers access support and information. Now the service has been expanded to the whole of Cumbria through Carer Support Cumbria (CSC) with funding from the Cumbria Community Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund - with ambitions to develop further to include the North West, the North and eventually become a national service.
Debi Marsden, Chief Operating Officer for Carer-Connect said: “The idea for the concept came from looking at where the gaps were in supporting our unpaid Carers in South Lakes though Carers Support South Lakes. Even before lockdown, many Carers couldn’t get together, or leave their homes because of their carer roles. Over the past year, we have all had to be more innovative about how we keep in touch and find alternatives to our traditional face-to-face contact.
“Our first idea was that we could add to our existing Carers Support South Lakes website a place where people could chat together, however this wasn’t possible, so we build our new platform - Carer-Connect.
“This provides a safe place to come together, chat and get the support and advice Carers need without them having to leave their home. They can chat online with other carers or members of our team and volunteers who have experience of caring for loved ones.
“It can be very isolating, caring for someone 24/7 and it can be very difficult to meet with others, as well as access the support available.
“Carer-Connect provides a safe place to chat with others who understand what it is like to be in your situation. It’s a place where you can be heard and ask questions and share really helpful ideas in your caring role at any time - day or night.
“We are in the very early days of the service; however, we are seeing people coming together and creating a meaningful online community, in a friendship way.
“The grant awarded to Carer Support Cumbria from the Cumbria Community Foundation COVID-19 Response enabling Carer-Connect to further its reach into the whole of Cumbria rather than that of just South Lakes. This platform allows unpaid Carers to connect with one another regardless of their geographical location.
“COVID-19 has really highlighted the issue of acute social isolation and the importance of support and conversations for all unpaid Carers. This is why Carer-Connect is needed right now. Carer-Connect is predominantly a social space with professional services and support built in. This safe and moderated forum is for unpaid Carers with groups for Adult and Parent Carers living throughout Cumbria”
Carer Connect is a purpose-built online community, providing support and access to vital information when unpaid Carers need it, 24/7.
It costs nothing to join, and is easy to register and create your own private, protected account by logging onto www.carer-connect.org.
Debi added: “Because this is an online service, it doesn’t have to be just for local people - however we are very proud to have started Carers Connect here in Cumbria.
“We would like to have a member of the team online all the time, so there is always someone available to chat and welcome any volunteers who would be interested in giving an hour or so of their time to be part of the Carers Connect team.
Anyone interested in volunteering for Carer Connect can contact Debi via email [email protected] or call 01539 815970.
To join Carer-Connect visit www.carer-connect.org