Hidden Carers - reporting back

"Before coming to this workshop, I used to cry at home if something bad happens. Now, I can handle any situation myself. I feel confident now."

Our Hidden Carers pilot project ran from April until the end of June 2015 in Birmingham, as part of our DCLG-funded Talking Together programme.

The aim was to develop and test a short programme of support to meet the needs of carers who had limited spoken English. 

We wanted to help raise awareness of the carer role; support people to understand carer vocabulary and express their needs as carers; understand the Care Act; develop new connections with other carers and help carers plan how to support themselves.

Eleven workshops took place, for which 44 learners were registered and 36 attended. We worked with four delivery partners: UK Asian Women’s Centre, African Community Council for the Regions, Midland Mencap and Stonham.

The biggest impact we saw was increased understanding of the Care Act, which shot up by 29%. The next two greatest areas of impact were around carers identifying themselves as a carer who has rights and in knowing where to go to find support.

We had some really positive and constructive feedback, and tutors and delivery partners said they were keen to see more programmes delivered in future.

Most of the tutors had caring experience which helped a great deal, and teaching on the project helped them to develop their understanding of the issues that Hidden Carers face. One tutor, who was also a carer, thanked us in particular for the opportunity to take part as it had given her renewed confidence to get back into teaching.

The pilot is now being expanded in a variety of directions through our new volunteer-led programme called Be Well which will provide information, advice and guidance to a range of Hidden Carers, including those who do not identify themselves as carers because of the stigma attached to their role - those caring for people with drug or alcohol addictions for example.

It will include: 

  • An updated version of the Hidden Carers workshop for carers with low levels of English and little or no access to carer support
  • A workshop to covers carer rights and support and wellbeing. This is specifically targeted at carers who look after people facing addiction and social stigma
  • A proposed workshop offering ICT skills to carers to combat digital exclusion. Because of the nature of their role carers have less opportunity to get out and so online support can play an important role

If you're interested in working with us as a delivery partner on the Be Well programme, do get in touch at odilia@timebank.org.uk