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Garden visits to help exhausted family carers in West Sussex cope with lockdown stress

To celebrate 25 years’ of garden giving for Carers Trust, the National Garden Scheme’s The Old Vicarage in West Sussex opened its beautiful gardens for a free visit for family carers. The visit helped unpaid carers get a much-needed break from the constant pressure of their caring role at home.  

A group of unpaid family carers who receive support from Carers Support West Sussex enjoyed a free day out to the beautiful gardens of The Old Vicarage in Washington.  

The visit was part of a wider initiative to help unpaid carers get a break from the pressures of providing round-the-clock care for a family member unable to look after themselves. 

The carers toured the garden, and chatted with other carers while enjoying tea and cakes in glorious natural surroundings.  One of the carers said: “During lockdown we were too scared to go out, so we relied heavily on internet shopping, and we were really careful.  It feels so relaxing and normal here and we’re looking forward to coming back again.” 

Another carer thanked everyone for the visit:   "It was superb, and a lovely tea as well! Lots of interesting chats to various carers,  we all got a lot from talking to each other.  Thanks again,  wouldn't have missed it for anything."

Karen Partridge, one of the members of staff from Carers Support West Sussex who accompanied the group said:  “Carers find it hard to get out and about, so just to be able to chat to other carers has been amazing.  People can come and support each other and make new friendships on these visits.  It’s a beautiful safe space with other people who understand what it’s like to be a carer.”

The visit to The Old Vicarage by West Sussex carers is part of a special programme of visits around the country. As restrictions continue to ease, the National Garden Scheme is generously opening its gardens to groups of unpaid carers from Carers Trust network of frontline carers charities for free, covid-secure, visits by prior arrangement.  

The visits follow a National Garden Scheme survey which found that 87%* of people responding to the survey said that having access to a garden or outdoor space during the lockdown had helped them relieve stress.  

The days out are also being organised to help mark the National Garden Scheme’s twenty-five years of support for Carers Trust and unpaid carers. Over that time, funding from the National Garden Scheme has helped Carers Trust to support around 438,000 unpaid carers a year through its network of local partner services, including Carers Support West Sussex.  

And in the last year, donations from the National Garden Scheme have been used to provide emergency grants to an estimated 18,000 unpaid carers, helping them to buy otherwise unaffordable items like fridges, washing machines and respite breaks, and providing support to help carers cope with the impact of the lockdown.  

“The National Garden Scheme was an early supporter of carers and its continuous funding for 25 years has been fundamental to unpaid carers’ lives,” says Svetlana Kirov, Director of Fundraising at Carers Trust. “We’re proud to have had them by our side for so long, and this has given our frontline partners like Carers Support West Sussex continuity to ensure the provision of essential items and respite breaks to unpaid carers.    

 “We know that green space is so important for wellbeing and stress relief.  Unpaid carers often work long hours, and lockdown life is normal life for many - the programme of free carer visits to National Garden Scheme gardens will be an extra, invaluable benefit to so many.”   

“The importance of gardens for our health and wellbeing has long been at the heart of the National Garden Scheme’s ethos,” says George Plumptre, Chief Executive of the National Garden Scheme. “The recent lockdown restrictions highlighted the importance of green spaces and gardens for us all and we’re delighted to be able to offer respite to unpaid carers through visits to our gardens hosted by our ever-generous garden owners.” 

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Coronavirus / England / Network Partners


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