The ‘carer’ in all of us, a role highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic, is being put in the spotlight by a filmmaking duo who have teamed up with the National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA).

The series of short emotive films feature five caregivers from the North East and document their stories as they care for others in the workplace, the local community and at home.

Produced by filmmakers Dan Prince and Sam Laverick in partnership with NICA, this series of powerful short documentaries named ‘The Carer in Us’ aim to highlight the difference carers are making, challenge stereotypes and raise awareness around all types of care and carers.

There are so many opportunities to innovate within the care industry and NICA are asking people to join them to change the way people think about care.

The films demonstrate that there is a carer in all of us and as COVID-19 hit our communities, caring has become even more prevalent, both in the workplace and in everyday life. Previous research estimates that nearly 8 million people in the UK provide care for family members without pay, and recent estimates show that an extra 4.5 million people have been added to this figure during the pandemic, with people caring for sick, older and family members with disabilities.

Each video gives a caregiver the chance to tell their story and share experiences. The five stories of caregiving, include Abu Shama from the Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre who talks about the diverse range of communities he works with and the profound effect of the pandemic has had on day-to-day activities and support. The role of caring for the community has extended and now involves food parcels, door-to-door visits, and helping older adults to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Rosemary Tarbit, who works for the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, also features in one of the films, talking about how the pandemic has shaped a new way for the service to ‘care’ for the community. Rosemary is also a carer for her mother-in-law, 95, and balances the care needs of others in both her personal and professional life.

Victoria Burnip, who was inspired to start her own businesses when she was caring for her Gran with dementia, talks about her journey. She now has her own successful business, Unforgettable Experiences, an organisation that provides creative, interactive, and practical support to help older people with dementia and other neurological conditions with access to arts and culture. Victoria also supports her husband, Richard, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2013. Other subjects include Norma Jewitt, a carer from Hebburn, who supports her local community and Lee Sadler who grew up caring for a disabled family member.

Local filmmaker Dan Prince said:

“In the midst of the pandemic we wanted to work with the local community to produce a series of films that were authentic, meaningful and moving. ‘The Carer in Us’ is the second series of films we have created to demonstrate the impact of the pandemic on work, life and care. We were delighted to link up with NICA, who have strong links with the care community and who facilitate innovation within the care sector.

“There is something to be said about having an idea, reaching out to collaborate and making a series to be proud of, while raising awareness of an important subject. Working alongside the team at NICA has opened the door to help us amplify the voices of people who have a caring role, out of choice or necessity. The common ground within every story is that caring is in their nature: however difficult the scenario they will put caring for others before themselves.”

AgeUK has found that 1 in 7 people over 65 are struggling without the help they need to carry out essential daily tasks. There are currently 1.5 million older people who have an unmet care need and it is estimated that by 2030 this will rise to 2.1 million people who are not getting the support they need.

Professor Nicola Palmarini, Director of the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing added:

“We are all carers in some way, whether you have embarked on a career in the care sector or care for loved ones, there is a caregiver in all of us. Whether you are paid or unpaid, your skills can benefit employers, innovators, and other care givers. We must harness the skills of the caregiving community to drive change. Carers UK estimates that we will see a 40% rise in the number of carers needed by 2037 – an extra 2.6 million carers, meaning the carer population in the UK will reach 9 million. This is why it is so important to drive new ideas that will support those with a care need to live well for longer.

“Our mission at NICA is to harness the intelligence of people through engagement, and collaborative projects like this are a way to share skills, learn and gather meaningful insight to develop new products, jobs, and opportunities within the care sector and beyond.  I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who shared their stories and helped us to deliver an authentic depiction of our care giving community.”

NICA are based within Newcastle University on Newcastle Helix. Together with VOICE™ they have developed a novel approach to Ageing Intelligence®, which brings together data driven insight and human experiences to help bring new products, business models and services to market. This is part of their work to help facilitate a society that is better equipped to meet the opportunities and challenges of an ageing population, helping to create a world in which we can all live smarter and healthier lives.

‘The Carer in Us’ is the first in a series of films that NICA will be commissioning around topics that can improve longevity, such as ‘The Skills in Us’ and ‘The Innovator in Us’.

These caregiving stories will be released today (11 May) and shared over the coming weeks, leading up National Carers Week 2021 which takes place from 7-13 June.

If you have an idea that could help bring new ideas, services and products to the care industry then NICA want to hear from you. Email info@uknica.co.uk to help change the way people think about care.

For more information about the campaign and to view the full series of films visit https://www.uknica.co.uk/   

Follow @UKNICAofficial #TheCarerInUs