A MULTITUDE of unpaid carers are being offered much-needed help by a North-East charity as the cost of living crisis pushes them deeper into poverty.

A range of advice and activities have been organised to mark National Carers’ Week (June 6-12) by Durham County Carers Support.

Official estimates claim there are 13.6 million unpaid carers in country, an increase of 4.5 million since the beginning of the pandemic, tens of thousands in Darlington and County Durham.

Their tireless efforts save the taxpayer an estimated £132 billion a year as they take on roles which would otherwise be the responsibility of the State.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, many have been forced into poverty and with the cost of living crisis this is getting worse by the day,” said DCCS chief executive Jenni Wood.

“Carers do not recognise themselves in the role so don’t access the support they need, often until there is a crisis. Durham County Carers Support is working across County Durham and Darlington to highlight the support available through many face to face and online events, and information days for carers and professionals.

“We offer help with benefits, finances, counselling, support groups and specialist and have organised a range of events to raise awareness.”

A new website features the events at https://dccarers.org/groups-and-events/ where carers can access an array of resources, or they can call 0300 0051213 for more information.

Events include:

  • Tea and Tech Drop-Ins, workshops that explain the basics of digital devices, internet security, social media, emails, online shopping and banking, downloading apps and uploading files and pictures. Lunch is provided and transport offered to people living out of the area of the workshop. Contact Alison Dixon on 0191 500 6031 or email dixon@dccarers.org.
  • Virtual Yoga, which helps to strengthen the body, improve balance and increase flexibility, as well as find calm in a busy world for better sleep, less stress and anxiety. Contact Jan Burden on 0191 500 6034 or email burden@dccarers.org
  • Listening Lunch for parent carers, a virtual lunch to enjoy a light-hearted quiz and a chat about carers’ experiences of services and how they can feel more visible, valued and supported. Their thoughts will be presented to professionals from a range of services that support families.
  • Planting Creativity, providing the chance at Eastlea Community Centre, Seaham, to create their own designs, decorate a pot and plant a visual feast of nature. Contact Karen Wilson on 0191 5006011 or email wilson@dccarers.org.
  • Visible, Valued and Supported online advice event, discussing a range of issues including energy saving tips and resources, financial support such as benefits and grants, carer breaks, technical support and how to use the new website. Anyone wanting to attend can follow the link: https://forms.office.com/r/zmHyB5t6xT.

For Geoff and Debbie Walker, of Horden, the six week Tea and Tech Drop-In sessions opened up a new world of benefits as age limits their mobility.

They were shown the basics of navigating a tablet and how to use a laptop fully including writing letters and uploading photos from a smart phone.

The course also covered online safety, emailing, social media, online shopping and banking and uploading and saving files.

Geoff was struggling with his old tablet and Debbie was trying to follow the course on her mobile phone so DCCS provided them with a new tablet each. According to Geoff the devices and the workshop have increased access to the online world and increased their confidence when using online services and businesses. They have also empowered them to do more online and helped them both in their caring and improved their health and wellbeing.

Geoff said: “The course was really useful and I’m on my tablet all the time. I’d like to do another course now to learn even more.”