There are six million people in the UK who care, unpaid, for a parent, sibling or friend who is sick, frail or disabled. Whilst it can be intensely rewarding to be able to offer care to a loved one in this way, it can also be draining and frustrating. Government funding to support carers is scarce and often difficult to qualify for and carers often find themselves struggling to juggle work, life and family on top of their caring duties.
Support and mutual advice can be invaluable if you are going through the mill of being a carer. As you are caring for a loved one, it can be difficult to admit the difficulties and frustrations of the situation you are in, as they are tied up with strong feelings of guilt and other complex emotions.
Anonymous peer mentoring with those who understand exactly what you are going through can be an invaluable source of support and encouragement, as well as a great outlet to get things off your chest. We have mentors who are carers, both young and old, offering advice and support based on a close understanding of what you are going through. Because they are going through it as well.
Let’s meet some of the horsesmouth mentors who have been there done that; are currently or have been carers, offering their wisdom and support to help others.
Nicemum, 48, says: ’I've been a young carer who supported a parent suffering from depression and bereavement and two younger siblings. This is a mighty burden for any child to bear and it is a deeply formative experience, I am happy to talk to any carers out there.’
Shelley9912 is a young graduate, currently caring full-time for her mother. ‘Separate from the fact that my mother is mentally ill I know very well how it is to be a carer. I have sacrificed a lot to look after and help my mother and I know that sometimes those sacrifices that we make can go unnoticed.’
‘I know that being a carer can be very daunting at first. I know how upsetting it can be to help someone look after their personal hygiene for the first time. I have been a carer for quite some time now. I have useful systems to help myself with my mothers different medications and hospital appointments and doctors appointments and mental health team appointments.’
Helpu is a grandfather and civil servant, caring for his wife with Alzheimers. ‘I work in government on the commercial side and have experienced the pain of living with someone with Alzheimers for 10 years. I have been a carer of someone with this illness and I understand the fears, frustration and guilt that carers can experience.’
‘My motivation is that I want to help other people as I was helped. This is a good means of helping as its very anonymity makes it easier for people to talk. I dont have all the answers but I can listen and thus offer the chance for the person with the problem to bring everything to the open and for them to find their own answers.’
Henskm, 54, is a nursing sister and a grandmother, who cared for her father with Alzheimers. ‘My Dad is my sole motivation for joining horsemouth, so I can carry on giving and attempting to understand and console people whose nearest and dearest have dementia. You are not on your own even though your world is crashing down on you and what you have known as normal, like me having a lovely Dad who was so much part of my life, changed to someone that changed so much. Although he recognised me to the last. This is his legacy, that I can help others.’