Funding for Volunteers allows Carers breaks to carry out vital tasks

A GROWING number of Carers are unable to attend appointments or carry out essential tasks such as popping to the shops because they are unable to leave their loved ones alone for any period of time

But Volunteers at Carer Support South Lakes (CSSL), a charitable organisation which supports the needs of unpaid Carers of any age, are affording them vital regular breaks so they can look after necessary business which they wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to do.

The charity recently received £3,000 from local housebuilder Russell Armer Homes to support its Volunteer Sitting Service over the next three years, and this funding will contribute towards the cost of employing a Sitting Service Support Worker whose role it is to match trained Volunteers with people who need support, thus giving their Carers a much-needed break.

Carer Support South Lakes moved into a new office in 2023.

Debi Marsden, the Chief Executive of CSSL, said: “CSSL has been operational for 31 years and the Sitting Service was started more than 12 years ago with the purpose of giving Carers a break from their caring duties. Many need to be with their loved ones 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are unable to do the things we take for granted.

“What we’ve seen since Covid is that the Carers who may have once took the opportunity to meet up with friends or do a social activity in the three hours’ break our Volunteers allow them to take, more are using the time to do everyday tasks which we may think are mundane, such as go to the shops or go to the post office to pay bills, because that is the only time they are able to do so.

“Our Volunteer Sitting Service has become something of a lifeline for Carers to get that time they desperately need away from the household, and it’s with thanks to the kind donations and funding we receive from such a supportive community that we are able to run such a vital service.

“Of course, some Carers do take the opportunity to meet up with friends or loved ones and do something they enjoy that they wouldn’t get the chance to do, and the difference that small break makes on their lives is enormous.

“We have more than 70 lovely Volunteers who spend time with people who need assistance, and the Carer knowing their loved ones are in trusting hands is such a huge relief to them.”

Debi Marsden, the Chief Executive of Carer Support South Lakes.

The benefits of the Volunteer Sitting Service are far-reaching, and the break for a Carer also has a big impact on the person receiving care.

Debi said: “Having somebody visit the home each month is something that the Cared For person really looks forward to as it allows them different conversations with new people, and it can really brighten up their day.”

The Volunteer Sitting Service from CSSL is available five days a week and Carers receive one ‘sit’ per month.

During the first home visit, a Sitting Service Support Worker will meet with the Carer and the Cared For to assess their needs and interests. Once accessed, they will see if they are eligible for support.

Nicky Gordon, the Chief Executive of Russell Armer Homes, said: “Hearing the stories about how some Carers are unable to do tasks such as pop out for some milk or go to the doctors really brought it home about how much they struggle to carry out tasks which we take for granted. 

“So to contribute, albeit in a small way, to provide the brief respite desperately needed by both the Carer and their loved ones is really humbling, and we’re delighted to support such an amazing initiative.”

CSSL received the grant from Russell Armer Homes through the housebuilder’s £20,000 fund made available through Cumbria Community Foundation.

Russell Armer Homes Chief Executive Nicky Gordon.

Other initiatives supported by Russell Armer Homes were: nursery equipment for Shap School (£2,000), Cumbria Development Education Centre’s Climate Leaders programme (£6,000), a sports and outreach project for The Phoenix Youth Project (£2,302.82), a new bus shelter in Kirkbarrow (£2,074), Centre for Leadership Performance’s Bright Stars programme (£2,000), Churches Together Penrith’s befriending service (£811.50) and improvements to facilities at Brewery Arts (£811.50).

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