Bridgend Carers Centre (BCC) exists to support unpaid carers in Bridgend. Since the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve had to adapt and create new services to help their community.
There are an estimated 18,000 unpaid carers in Bridgend. Most often this involves people caring for family members, and it can range from everything including young people caring for sibling with physical disabilities, parents looking after children with mental disabilities and elderly people caring for their partner.
BCC was set-up back in 1999 and it became a registered charity in 2008. In response to the growing need to make a positive difference to these carers lives, the centre was created to provide information, advice and support to improve the wellbeing of those carers within the county.
As well as practical advice, it offers carers various activities to help them have fun and unwind, such as a weekly meet-up at the community café and regular trips and activities.
Rhian Watts, Young Carers Education Project Manager said: ‘Being a carer can be incredibly tough. These people are tasked with the daunting feat of protecting the most vulnerable people in our community.
‘From just 7 years old to 94, we deal with unpaid carers of all ages who have found themselves tasked with the responsibility of looking after their loved ones. Our job is to offer them one to one support to enable them to carry out their roles effectively and improve their wellbeing.’
Since the pandemic
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the centre was forced to close on 17 March. Although unable to continue with its one to one support in person at the centre, a holistic carer support service had never been more important.
After all, the centre had found a widespread rise in cases of carers feeling isolated and anxious about how to now carry out tasks such as food shopping in order to prevent a dangerous situation whereby they may contract the virus and expose it to the vulnerable person in their home.
Immediately assuring its carers that it was still there for them, the centre has continued to offer its assistance remotely with telephone support lines for areas such as counselling, legal advice and information on welfare benefits. Through this telephone line, carers can still continue to have access to a range of experts, including support workers and benefits advisors. to support staff when they need advice or just a chat over concerns or worries.
Carers have told staff how much they value having someone to talk to at this difficult time and have been extremely appreciative of the service.
‘Even though we were unable to do face-to-face consultancies like normal, we’ve worked hard to sustain our support system by finding new ways to engage with our carers. As well as our dedicated telephone support line, we’ve managed to bring carers together with weekly baking sessions, online quizzes, virtual movie nights and WhatsApp wellbeing groups.’
Voluntary Services Emergency Fund
Through the Voluntary Services Emergency Fund, Bridgend Carers Centre has been assisted in its pursuit to continue maintaining support for all the unpaid carers in Bridgend.
Through home-working, the grant will help to ensure this dedicated team continues to provide vital support by telephone, email, video calling and social media to all carers experiencing isolation, increasing anxiety, loneliness and practical difficulties, at this time of unprecedented need.
‘As the pandemic worsened, these carers were more in need of support than ever. As we all know, the role of a carer has become even tougher than before over the past couple of months.
‘Thankfully, our new services are allowing us to access even more carers, and it has created a strong sense of community by both helping carers to have new ways of managing concerns and reminding them that there are other people who understand what they’re going through.’
Find out more about WCVA and how your organisation can apply for funding here, to make sure you can continue to provide vital support to people in need during this time.