On Friday 20 November, Carer Support Dorset celebrates its one-year anniversary! Here, we look back at some of our achievements over the past year and some of the challenges that Dorset carers have faced…

Highlights this year

Over the past year, we’ve worked closely with partner organisations including Dorset Council, Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group and Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust as well as other charitable organisations such as Rethink Mental Health, Dorset Carers Hub and many more.

We have seen an increase in 62% of carers registering on the Dorset Carers Record that we hold. We have also made over 2,800 signposts to different organisations that can help our carers including Age UK, Alzheimer’s Support and The Leonardo Trust.

Our Manager, Anna Elston, explains some of the highlights of our work over the past year…

The challenge of Covid-19

Covid-19 has had an enormous impact on many of our carers, with feelings of increased isolation and concerns about their own health and that of those who they care for.

During the first Covid-19 lockdown across the country, we sent regular newsletters out to carers (via post and email) to highlight some of the resources that they could take advantage of and to keep carers informed on any developments to government policy and locally that could affect them.

In addition to this, we made over 1,400 welfare calls to vulnerable carers. This enabled us to see how the carers were feeling and whether there were any services that we could suggest that could better support our carers.

Virtual Cuppas

With the reduction and cancellation of carer support groups across the county, we responded to this by setting up regular Virtual Cuppa sessions via RingCentral (powered by Zoom). These sessions continue to this day and take place on alternate Wednesdays, 2pm-3pm. Our Virtual Cuppas give carers the opportunity to talk to other carers in similar situations to them and to chat to some of the Carer Support Dorset team. We have also introduced regular guest speakers and some more interactive sessions. Carer and regular Virtual Cuppa visitor, Nick, talks about why he has found our Virtual Cuppas beneficial…

Take a look at our upcoming Virtual Cuppa sessions by browsing our what’s on section of our website or contact us for joining details.

Our Here to Talk befriending service

Another service that we introduced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic was our Here to Talk befriending scheme. This scheme connects carers with a volunteer who will offer regular, informal chats via the phone as a way of reducing social isolation. This was established thanks to funding from Dorset Community Foundation. One of our volunteers, and former carer, Howard, tells more about this service in the following video…

If you feel you could benefit from this service, please contact us. Equally, if you would like to volunteer for us, fill in our volunteer sign-up form.

The future for Carer Support Dorset

We will continue to support unpaid carers across Dorset with information, advice and guidance. Our team has recently expanded and we have two new Carer Advisers, Bailey and Roxana and will soon have a new Young Carer Coordinator join us to help expand the services we can offer young carers across the county.

If you would like to know more about our services and how we may be able to support you, or someone you know who’s a carer, please get in touch.

A final note from us…

We’d like to say a big thank you to all of the individuals, organisations and carers that have supported us over the past year.

Best wishes

Anna, Emma, Trevor, Poppy, Roxana and Bailey