A unique event took place at Stormont on February 5 2015 when senior management from charity Carers Trust, the largest charity for unpaid carers, met with Health Minister Officials to discuss progress of the Big Lottery funded Mind the Gap programme and other carer related issues. The “Mind the Gap “project will support more than 1,500 carers aged 60+ over the next three years by helping them to have an improved quality of life through better access to advice on benefits and services.
The meeting was organised by John McCallister MLA and attended by Moira Fraser, interim Chief Executive of Carers Trust as well as several members of the Carers Trust NI team. Commenting on the visit Moira Fraser said: “Carers Trust is delighted to have the opportunity to discuss Mind the Gap and carers issues with health minister officials. Mind the Gap is a clear example of how Carers Trust supports unpaid carers and indicates our desire to develop a wide range of services in Northern Ireland to reach those most hidden of carers most in need of support”
Among the issues discussed at the meeting was the particular difficulties of getting support to hidden carers, particularly in rural areas. Director of UK Operations for Carers Trust Pete Richardson commented: “The landscape for unpaid carers continues to change dramatically throughout the UK as we face an ageing population and more complex caring needs within society generally.
It is a constant struggle for charities like ours to meet these needs but as the largest charity for carers we are at the cutting edge of service provision Our vision is of a world where the role and contribution of unpaid carers is recognised and they have access to the trusted quality support and services they need to live their own lives.
I am delighted to have met with the Health Department and look forward to the continued development of Carers Trust in Northern Ireland” John McCallister MLA was particularly interested in finding out about the plight of rural carers.
“I have followed the Mind the Gap journey with great interest and welcomed the opportunity to hear of its progress to date and how Carers Trust intends to build on its foundations. I have been concerned about the lack of support for our elderly carers particularly in rural constituencies like my own for some time Any initiatives that puts rural carers at the centre of planning and programming deserves to receive wholehearted support from all of the community”