My role as a Community Development Worker at Carers Leeds is varied, just the way I like it. I have to say though being out and meeting ‘hidden’ Carers who often don’t see themselves as Carers is probably my favourite part of what I do. Why? Because once you have made that connection that feeling that you can help prevent them from feeling alone, or finding them their nearest support group so they can speak to others going through the same challenges, that you can put them in touch with someone who can help them complete wordy and often complex forms, that you know if they need help with their health and wellbeing the will get it. That’s what I love!

But it always amazes me at the number of individuals who selflessly dedicate their time, energy, passion, love and money to help others in need. But if I asked them if they were a Carer what would they say? No, but…….

On Friday I called into see the ‘Elderberries  – Swillington’, it is a community based group for the over 50’s. Out of the 17 people who attended that day (usually it’s more) I met 5 Carers.

Here is some of the No, but’s….. I came across:

I’m not a Carer but… Me and my wife provide meals, cleaning and washing for one of our neighbours who lives alone. He can’t really get out now, so we do our bit to help him. We do it every day apart from Sundays.  We make sure he has a meal he can prepare himself for Sunday though.

I’m not a Carer but.. I look after my Mum who lives across the other side of Leeds. She lives in her own home and me and my brother and sisters take it in turns to go every day. We take her to all her medical appointments, make her meals and provide day to day support. She has Alzhimers. I wouldn’t say I am a Carer, she’s my Mother and that’s what you do.. but I suppose I am.

I’m not a Carer but… I have a friend who I have been close to for 40 years. Her health has deteriorated and she couldn’t live on her own any more. She is now in a Care home. We speak every day and I’m really the only person that visits her, but its 40 miles away and my health isn’t what is use to be. I am trying to get her moved to a home in Leeds so I can go to her every day and take her to all her appointments and take her out now and then.

And this is why finding the ‘No, But’ Carers is so important. If they didn’t fulfil these vital duties of practical, emotional and often financial support who would?  Where would the Cared for person go? Who would support them then? What extra demands would be put on our health service and council?

So here’s to a new week of hunting down those hidden Carers and developing those Carer Friendly Communities. Let’s ‘Keep Carers Caring’.

Nicola Greaves – Development Worker  – South & East Leeds