The Revd Clive Richardson, Carers Support Adviser, recounts his experience as carers support adviser and a finalist in the National Health Service Journal Awards (HSJ).
Working with carers is an eye opening experience. Seeing the tireless work that they do to care for someone they love never fails to move me. It is physically and emotionally demanding work, undertaken without pay and on top of normal home, family and working responsibilities.
"My work with young carers has brought me into contact with some of the strongest people I have had the privilege of meeting."
My work with young carers has brought me into contact with some of the strongest and potentially, least supported people I have had the privilege of meeting. These are people who, in their childhood – supposedly the time when we are free to explore, question and enjoy life – take on the physical and emotional burden of looking after a member or members of their family. This often takes place on top of the increasingly demanding school or college work, work that directly impacts prospects in life.
"In spite of the invaluable work they do, too many carers receive little or no support or recognition in our communities."
It amazes me that, in spite of the invaluable work they do, too many carers receive little or no support or recognition in our communities outside of the bits of ‘Children in Need’ people either skip, or cry through. These are people who help take work off our burdened healthcare system and they receive so little in return.
Trying to rectify this blind spot underpins much of the work I do, and it was a true privilege to have some of the projects I’m involved with included as part of the NHS Surrey Heartlands shortlisted submission for the HSJ Award for Excellence in Health Care.
The diocese’s part in the ‘Employers for Carers’ scheme, the link up with Woking F.C. to offer a once in a lifetime experience for young carers, and young carers event at the Cathedral, were primary parts of the Surrey Heartlands entry.
After discovering the delightful fact that my tux still fits like a dream, it was off to London and the Intercontinental O2 for a glittering awards ceremony. Although we were not selected as the winner it was very heartening to be a finalist and to have our work recognised nationally.
"The challenge now is to make everyone aware of work of carers and the support that is available to them."
We are privileged to have a strong network of carers in the diocese in addition to opportunities to get support. The challenge now is to make everyone aware of work of carers and the support that is available to them.
There are a multitude of ways for churches to support carers, and I am available to explore opportunities with any interested Parish or parish group. Find out more about supporting carers: