There are around 214,000 family carers (1 in 8 of the population) in Northern Ireland saving the Northern Ireland economy over £4.4 billion a year.

There are 30,000 people who care for more than one person and 26% of all carers provide over 50 hours per week meaning that in all probability they will become the cared for themselves.

Given that the majority of these people are in the 60 plus age bracket the need to dedicate a specific programme to these carers has never been more relevant.

About Mind the Gap

The Mind the Gap project run by Carers Trust aims to:

Assist 1,500 carers (aged 60+) in Northern Ireland (through existing service provision channels, and by identifying gaps in services) to have an improved quality of life through better access to advice on benefits and services. 

The programme will address issues of:

  • poor health - particularly in relation to emotional distress caused by elderly  carers  not knowing where to go for help and are left struggling 
  • social isolation- by facilitating access to peer support groups
  • respite - by facilitating access to breaks
  • lack of confidence - through better access to specialised help and support
  • overcoming social isolation experienced by older carers particularly but not exclusively living in rural area.
  • being able to manage the impact of caring on their physical and mental health.

Older carers involved in the project will have increased confidence in carrying out their caring role through gaining technical and life skills specifically focused on their needs as carers.

This will address the 'lack of confidence' many older carers face in providing care to their loved ones. It will equip them to 'care with confidence' and feel empowered in their carers' roles. 

With Carers Trust as lead partner and no less than 13 other partners coming together for the good of carers the Mind the Gap programme funded by the Big Lottery under its 'reaching older people' fund recently commenced in June 2013 employing a Northern Ireland Development Manager and 5 part-time support workers (one for each health trust area).

Mind the Gap partners

The partners are: Carers Trust, Age NI, Alzheimers Society, Belfast Carers Centre, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust, Boots UK Ltd, HSC Public Health Agency, MacMillan Cancer Support, Northern Health & Social Care Trust, Parkinson's UK, Royal College of General Practitioners, South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust, Southern Health & Social Care Trust and Western Health and Social Care Trust.

The main aim of the programme is to enable carers to get the best possible support and given specific issues of rurality it was felt that a telephone befriending and referring scheme would have substantial merit.