Story #11

Supporting vulnerable carers in Barking & Dagenham

“It’s been one of the darkest time for unpaid carers – and for us that support them. Coronavirus has been very real, and deadly to us. We’ve very sadly lost people to it”

Carers in Barking & Dagenham have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic bringing some vital support to isolated, stressed and anxious family carers throughout the borough. All this despite having to close the carers centre and the much-needed dementia support centre. The team set up zoom support groups, health and wellbeing workshops – again on line. Connecting people was a major priority. 1,000s of one to one welfare support calls to carers were made. Food parcels, prescriptions and PPE were delivered.

So on-going work for Carers in Barking & Dagenham hasn’t been easy.

One of the charity’s main volunteers lost both of their parents to Covid. But the worse moment for the charity came just before Christmas 2020 during the winter lockdown, when a long-serving and much cherished member of staff died from the pandemic. As Lorraine Goldberg, the charity’s Chief Officer said: “ Our area has been badly hit, and the local authority like ourselves found itself really struggling. Then we had the most devastating news, with one of the kindest and most amazing member of staff tragically passing away with Covid. It was so sad. And at that time, people were dying in large numbers in the borough – carers and those they care for – it felt very real to us, a real crisis.” 

The charity had to hurriedly submit funding bids to get the necessary IT (mainly laptops) and mobile phones they all needed to continue to deliver support. The City Bridge Trust and Lloyds Bank Foundation helped out. 

As Debbie Robinson & Dawn Daniel explain further:

“ We had to set up a hybrid form of support, and quickly realised the growing extent of need in the borough. It was harrowing, with carers reporting how they were really frightened for their loved ones. Infection rates soared at one stage, and we all had to get behind the carers – giving some comfort and re-assurance, as much as we could muster. Those supporting people with complex needs were especially isolated. The strains were very real, and carers didn’t have any breaks.”

“Our WhatsApp groups were a life saver, we could all offer support to each other, have some banter and build morale. It has been though one of the darkest times for carers in the borough.”