30th November 2017Category: Working Carers
Many of you may have seen the articles in the press recently saying that we have been out and about visiting local business and training carers champions.
The first time I heard this term all I could picture was someone in a cape fighting villains and protecting carers in the local areas. The reality is slightly different but I would like to think that they are still doing their part changing carer’s lives. A group of people bring awareness of who unpaid carers are and support people to make contact with the charity to ensure they get the right support and information for their current situation.
You may not have heard of these people before but they are across Allerdale and Copeland. You may have even had a chat with one and may not have realised it.
Who are Carers Champions?
A Carers Champion is someone who is aware of the stresses and strains a carer may be facing. They can understand the important role of a carer and they can pick up on the signs of when someone could be carer especially when that person may not know it themselves. They have the skills to chat, and talk about caring as well as confidential issues and knowing where the boundaries lie. They understand through training with West Cumbria Carers they can share information about the charity and what services are available as well as support people to make that first step of contacting the charity but only when they are ready to do so.
So there isn’t a cape but plenty of leaflets.
Why do we need Carers Champions?
As many of you will know, we all live very busy lives, especially working carers. This often means that we are going from here to there in a hurry and miss out on information and support. Carers Champions raise awareness of West Cumbria Carers and what services are available to those that may need it in the community. Another thing that they do is act as a voice for carers and build the general public’s perception of the role. Carers are all around us as you will be aware of but if you haven’t experienced caring yourself or in your family, you may not be fully aware of what it means. Carers Champions develop lots of relationships in the community. They might even give the odd talk or presentation to help others gain knowledge about a hugely important unpaid role which is carried out by thousands of people in the county. To be honest, it takes time but building the tribe of Carers Champion in the West could really spread the message and build the support.
Who can be a Carers Champion?
Anyone can be a Carers Champion. It is a voluntary role that often sits nicely with someone’s role in the workplace or their involvement in a local group or church. For example, someone working in a pharmacy will regularly talk to people collecting prescriptions for themselves and/or for another. That person may not realise they are a carer but talking to a Carers Champion realise that there is support out there for them. It is someone who can guide and signpost someone to West Cumbria Carers. (If you are unsure if you have met a carers champion, they have a little badge or will do in the near future).
Before someone officially becomes a Carers Champion, there is a requirement to attend an Induction and Training Programme prior to the start of volunteering (it is only a couple of hours long). After that, they have ongoing support from the Volunteer Coordinator, one-to-one supervision, training, and group meetings with other volunteers (you can swap stories and get advice from each other).
For more information about volunteering with West Cumbria Carers please click here.
Where are the Carers Champions?
West Cumbria Carers already have champions across Allerdale and Copeland. Examples include; Sellafield Ltd. Kaefer Ltd. various pharmacies, the Credit Union in Whitehaven, Cornerstone bookshop as well as Sainsburys in Cockermouth. There are champions who are in Distington surgery and Yewdale Ward at the West Cumberland hospital.
The numbers of Carers Champions are growing so a champion might be in your work organisation or village. The point is carers are everywhere and so the Carers Champions are spread across an array of locations.
Can we get a carers champion in our business?
Businesses are a great place for this role. There are people who are in human resources, or supervisory roles, or there is always that one person who everyone goes to for support or a good chat, they might be the right fit. We have had interest for the need for Carers Champions in the workplace. So get in contact and it might be a get fit.
I have heard get things about Carers Champions and it sounds like there will be more joining the ranks of the super heroes in the community. So if you want to be involved call our office on 01900 821976 or click the link above for more information.