Carers Support Fund reaches thousands of unpaid carers in Wales
Today Carers Trust Wales launch a report which describes the massive difference the Welsh Government funded Carers Support Fund made to 6,444 carers in Wales in 2020/21.
There has long been strong evidence that unpaid carers are more likely than those who don’t provide care to experience financial hardship or to live in poverty.
The pandemic has undoubtedly amplified the many pressures facing carers reducing opportunities for respite and increasing the difficulty of balancing caring with work or education. The impact on carers has been profound with many describing a decline in their mental health and wellbeing as well as their short- and long-term financial security.
To ensure that carers most in need could access urgent support, Carers Trust Wales and our Network Partners were pleased to work with Welsh Government to develop and deliver the Carers Support Fund within all local authorities in Wales.
The £1m Carers Support Fund was launched in late October 2020 with an additional £0.25m made available at the end of January 2021 in recognition of the substantial demand identified through the first phase of delivery.
Feedback from unpaid carers and the services delivering the Support Fund demonstrated that it helped to address significant unmet need having a direct and positive impact on unpaid carers.
“Thank you so much! I can put the heating on more as then the children won’t be cold. It will make a massive difference for me and the children. It’s been so cold.”
“I'm just so thankful to be able to fill my cupboards and freezer and not having to worry about finding the money to pay back ... it's a little bit of sunshine in one hell of a storm ... thank you so much!”
“Thank you for sorting the hardship grant for me and my family. The £150 food voucher has helped us more than you will ever know especially me as I worry so much about money and paying my bills. By having the voucher to pay for food, has freed up some money, which has helped me clear some extra payment on my heating bills. Thank you.”
“I was very very thankful for the grant I received, took a huge amount of pressure off me that month regarding how I was going to be able to keep my children warm, I was issued a shopping voucher and the money I saved from having to shop I put straight into my gas meter. Thank you so so much.”
Not only did the scheme address immediate needs through the purchase of food, heating and clothing it also helped to connect previously unsupported carers to wider support services.
“Thank you so much for my laptop. It will make doing my school work so much easier now and I won’t feel stressed anymore that I haven't done what the teachers have asked. I'm excited to use if to join in with the young carers stuff too.”
“I just want to say a few words about the small grant I received in January. The grant allowed me to buy some quality warm clothes for my 2 year old, it enabled me to pay for some childcare. As a single dad, I’ve been alone, hungry and forgotten, the grant gave me some respite.”
The Support Fund has strongly demonstrated that many unpaid carers are living hand to mouth and there is further work to be done to fully understand the extent to which this has resulted from the pandemic or been amplified by it. The sheer demand for the Support Fund and the very basic needs it has been used to meet, provides further evidence that addressing the financial impact of caring should be a continued priority for Welsh Government.
As plans for recovery from the pandemic are developed it will be important to understand how unpaid carers can be better connected to services, supported to maximise their income, and provided with the tools and support they need to be as emotionally and financially resilient as possible.
Carers Trust Wales is working with our Network Partners and Welsh Government to identify how the evidence and learning within the report can be used to ensure that unpaid carers are supported to be financially secure and well connected to carers services.
Director of Carers Trust, Simon Hatch comments:
“The Carers Support Fund has been a lifeline for carers helping to meet the most basic needs such as access to food and heating.
“Our Network Partners worked tirelessly to deliver this large-scale fund at pace reaching some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
“Our health and social care system relies on the contributions made by thousands of carers across Wales every day. It is essential that they are given the recognition they deserve and the support they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
“We will continue to work with Welsh Government and our Network Partners to explore ways to continue the Support Fund and to improve the sustainability of specialist carers services.”
The Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan said:
“It is fantastic to see the difference the Carers Support Fund has made to carers across Wales. The pandemic has affected us all but we know carers have faced increased challenges. The Support Fund has helped carers cope with the financial impact of being a carer during a pandemic. No one should face hardship or not be able to meet their basic needs because they have taken on caring responsibilities.”