#GoodNewsCymru | Social enterprise

Swansea Carers Centre sets up multiple helplines to support carers

Independent charity, Swansea Carers Centre has adapted its services in response to COVID-19 by setting up seven helplines, which went live over the first few weeks of lockdown, to help unpaid carers with whatever they need.

By Mike Erskine · May 14, 2020

See this page in: Cymraeg

Independent charity, Swansea Carers Centre has adapted its services in response to COVID-19 by setting up seven helplines, which went online over the first few weeks of lockdown, to help unpaid carers with whatever they need.

The centre aims to make a positive difference to those who have caring responsibilities. The service offers a variety of support for people of different backgrounds and ages looking after people with different conditions and needs, whether they are parent carers, those caring for someone with dementia or young adult carers.

The coronavirus bombshell challenged the charity in a number of ways. Thankfully, their funding was secure, however everyone recognised that the way they delivered their services would need to change.

Before the pandemic, Swansea Carers Centre had one single helpline. A typical visit from a carer needing support included a member of staff greeting them at the front door for a cup of tea, a biscuit, and a chat during a drop-in or training session.

After the outbreak, the staff all agreed that they needed to change their practices quickly. It was decided that multiple helplines were needed to cover all their carers’ needs. The new helplines cover a range of topics such as counselling; welfare benefits; advice and support and dedicated helplines for young adult carers; those caring for someone with dementia, parent carers and a hospital outreach helpline.

Coronavirus is going to have a significant impact on people’s wellbeing and mental health, particularly on the vulnerable. It was important we reached out to our carers to let them know that we are still here if they want a chat about anything. If it’s a chat about last night’s Eastenders or welfare benefits, we are at the end of the phone for them.

Ifor Glyn, Executive Director, Swansea Carers Centre

Aside from the helplines, the centre’s staff have also been making sure they are keeping in touch with the vulnerable people and their carers who would usually attend the day centre, which has had to temporarily close. The organisation has also been making sure children in the area are given a chance to get creative and keep occupied during lockdown by delivering craft boxes to their parents.

Ifor said:

“Even though we had these fantastic, busy helplines up and running, there was still a big gap in what we are doing. Being in touch face-to-face on a weekly basis was vital for our carers.

“We started using Zoom for team meetings a few weeks ago, and some staff wanted to start doing Zoom drop-ins, which have really worked. It has brought back a sense of community. We have regular quiz nights, a book club and yoga sessions as well as the drop ins.”

The staff were pleasantly surprised with the amount of older people engaging with the online drop ins and activity.

We accept that not everyone is online, we know we need to continue to look at how we engage those people. We have had funding from the Big Lottery towards a project addressing issues around people who are not online or who don’t want to speak on the phone. We have recently begun a texting service, which is just another way we are adapting for our carers.

Ifor Glyn, Executive Director, Swansea Carers Centre

Swansea Carers Centre has received business consultancy support and advice from Social Business Wales, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre.

We’ve been supporting Swansea Carers Centre since 2015, helping them with a range of things like business and financial planning, service reviews, strategic assessment and more recently, how to become more entrepreneurial. The adaptation and responsiveness to the current crisis is testament to the vital role so many social businesses hold in communities across Wales.

Carl Gough, Business Advisor, Social Business Wales

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