'Summit’ meeting focuses on city’s carers

A ‘summit’ meeting for carers in Brighton & Hove will be held at the Hilton Metropole Hotel on Brighton seafront on Friday 28 November from 10.15am to 2pm to mark national Carers Rights Day.

Carers are people who devote large amounts of time to looking after family or loved ones who have illnesses or disabilities. It is estimated that there are as many as 23,000 carers in Brighton & Hove alone. For many carers like Jaqui Somers (pictured) it’s a full time commitment.

The carer summit has been arranged jointly by Brighton & Hove City Council’s carer support team and the city’s Carers Centre. It will also feature a lunchtime ‘market place’ starting at 1pm of teams around the city who can help carers. They include:

  • The Fed Centre for Independent Living
  • The council’s welfare rights and carer support teams
  • The Carers Centre
  • Carelink Plus
  • Job Centre Plus
  • Brighton Housing Trust
  • The Sussex Partnership NHS Trust.

A free lunch will be provided. All carers will be offered a free month’s trial for Carelink Plus, the council’s community alarm and telecare service.

This enables vulnerable people to call for help simply by pressing a special alarm pendant or brooch, and a range of sensors to help make day to day life safer for them. A massive 82% of carers who use CareLink Plus find it helpful.

Jaqui Somers lives in Brighton. She looks after her sister, who has cerebral palsy, and her mother, who has a long-term illness and also heart problems. She said:

“I used to work as a legal secretary but being a carer is a full-time role for me these days. My sister has limited mobility and needs a lot of support, while mum won’t let anyone else care for her.

“Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. I like my life, I love my family, I have a great network of friends and I’m the sort of person who just gets on with things. But it’s not always easy.

“I find I have to be very organised with my time. A lot of it is basic stuff like shopping, cooking and cleaning for my sister or mum, but I also have to be ready to change my plans at very short notice if either of them have a crisis.

“I try to keep one day a week clear of caring duties, and have just joined the Brighton Belles choir – I’m loving that!

“I also really enjoy going to the coffee mornings that the Carers Centre organises and other events organised specially for carers. It’s great to meet people who are going through similar things and understand the pressures you are under.

“I get brilliant support from the council’s carer support team. They’ve helped me get a special Carers Grant to pay for an occasional respite break and also pointed me to the council’s Carers Card, which gives discounts on lots of local services.

“They’ve always making sure I’m claiming all the benefits that I’m entitled to. But it’s more than financial stuff – it’s just really nice to know there’s a friendly voice at the end of the phone who can give me advice and reassurance when things get difficult.”

The council’s lead member for adult care and health, Councillor Rob Jarrett, said: “Carers make such a massive contribution to society, but I don’t think they get the credit they’re due.

“I want all our carers to know that we value their role very highly, and I hope the carers summit event will help raise awareness of the contribution they make and the pressures they are under.

“Our carer support team does a fantastic job assessing their needs, making sure they are getting all the benefits they are entitled to, and being there to support them when things get difficult.”

To find out more about the support that’s available to carers in Brighton & Hove please phone the council’s adult social care access point team on 01273 295555 or email accesspoint@brighton-hove.gov.uk.