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Jigsaws help a Newcastle unpaid carer put life back together

Unpaid carer Kelly-emma, 43, a single parent, cares for her two children who are autistic and live with ADHD, as well as a partner who has the same conditions.

Her day-to-day life is very challenging. She spends over 100 hours a week caring for Sophie, 17 and Zachary 14, with little or no time for herself. 

But in the last year she has re-discovered a childhood love of jigsaws, and it is giving her a sense of calm and mindfulness and has made a huge difference. And now Carers Trust has given her a £245.00 grant for the purchase of as many puzzles as she would like.   

She said: “Both my children need help in every aspect of their lives. This includes dressing, washing and eating. Zachary only leaves the house once a week for an hour to see a tutor and while Sophie does go to college, she needs support at college and at home. Including Sophie’s travel, I drive her to college and collect her every day.  Zachary doesn’t have a good sleep pattern and will more often than not go for periods of 24 to 36 hours before sleeping.  I don’t just care for my children’s physical needs, I’m also their counsellor, nurse, friend, comfort, problem solver and whatever they need me to be.

“About a year ago, I started to pick up some jigsaws. I used to work in financial services and I really needed something to engage my brain.  I am autistic too and I love puzzles and need to keep my brain engaged.  I am very much at home 99% of the time and jigsaws give me an escape and also relax me.

“It is the sorting of the pieces into colours, and corners, which I find so relaxing.  I sort into colour groups and will often sort again throughout completing the jigsaw.  This is the part I enjoy the most, once completed I take 2 photos and then immediately take the puzzle apart.  It’s easy to fit in with our routine.

“Thanks to Carers Trust I now have a portable jigsaw table, sorting trays and lots of lovely new jigsaws.  I just take the jigsaw sorting tray into the room where my children need me and can be doing it while they are involved in other activities.”   

She has done at least 20 complicated jigsaws in the last year. Once completed, she photographs them and then takes the boxes to charity shops – to give others the opportunity to do them.”

She is supported by the Gateshead Carers Association. Caroline Harding, Carer Wellbeing Facilitator said: “The carer has a heavy caring role, with very little support. Additionally, as one of her children has not been accessing education due to their needs for most of the last year and a half, she has very little respite from her caring role. She manages well, but this has a large impact on her own wellbeing and ability to socialise and engage.”


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