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An online service is reaching out to unpaid carers in the area by offering online support for free

Published: Monday, 17th January 2022

Mobilise, an organisation commissioned by Stoke on Trent City Council, are piloting a new service to reach out to unpaid carers in Stoke-on-Trent.

The pilot project with Mobilise, which starts on the 17th January 2022, are being provided with a service by the local authority to discover and support 4,000 ‘unpaid carers’ in the area, who may not even know they are carers, through social media and digital marketing.

The service works by connecting people who look after loved ones with other people in a similar position – it is a carer community for other carers - whether they look after a relative, a friend, a neighbour or a child with a disability or long-term illness or condition, they can take advantage of a range of services and be connected immediately to get timely and relevant support.

Information from the Census 2011 (ONS) shows that in Stoke on Trent the number of unpaid carers was 27,385 (11% of residents provide unpaid care to a friend, relative or neighbour). However, a recent report from Carers Trust shows a dramatic increase of up to 1 in 5 adults having caring responsibilities during the COVID pandemic (with approximately 200,000 adults over 18 in Stoke on Trent this would equate to 40,000 adult carers.)

Drawing from their experiences from the community and looking at everything they can do to help similar people, Mobilise, will work alongside the existing carers support services provided by North Staffs Carers and Stoke on Trent City Council by providing an online service which includes a free five-part email course, packed full of support for carers, which they can sign up to or can connect by joining the Mobilise community on Facebook.

The course covers a range of areas of support including ensuring they are accessing fundamental services to ensure they are getting the most help possible; support on how to create a network of people who can support them, so they never feel isolated; guidance on emergency planning, so they are ready and prepared should something unexpected come up and guidance on how to stay up to date, so they are aware of any changes which may affect them.

The service also provides a free 45-minute video support over Zoom called virtual cuppas, where people can share tips or chat about what they are going through, whether it’s sharing a laugh or tears with around 10 other people.

Other Mobilise services which carers can access include, blogs and guides to caring, an online discussion forum for carers, a live web chat, weekly e-support with links to local services and activities for carers, a carer allowance checker, support calls and emergency planning template and mini assessment.

The online cuppas take place 4 to 5 days a week, Monday to Friday and carers can join as many as they like. There is also 24/7 access to the website and forum and the support calls and web chat are from 8am to 10pm every day.

Councillor Ally Simcock, cabinet member for adult social care and health care, said: “There are people in the city who provide care to their families and don’t come forward for any help and support, while there is support out there which is easily accessible. I want to encourage people who care for a loved one to recognise that using digital technology is a good way to connect to people in similar situations to you and that there are a range of support networks on offer to use.

We want to identify more carers and provide additional support, particularly during the difficult winter months, so carers can continue to provide their crucial care and enjoy positive lives. Mobilise is a great way for people to connect and receive support from others who can relate to their similar and shared experiences.

What the pandemic has shown us is that people are using digital technology more than ever and it helps to connect people to others more than ever.”

Lee, 55 years old, a family carer who supports his sister who is a stroke survivor and her son who has psychosis said: “Mobilise is unique, real people with real experience are there to help make a real difference in how I support my loved ones who have health challenges.  Everyone who cares for a loved one would do well to connect with Mobilise."

There is a dedicated page on the Mobilise website for the pilot in Stoke. For more information go to: https://www.mobiliseonline.co.uk/stoke.