There are about 7 million unpaid carers in the UK, so one in 10 people in the UK has an unpaid caring responsibility of some form.
When people need help with their day to day living they often turn to their family and friends. In some cases, this isn't always possible. For the people of Bede House, it's those who volunteer their time helping others that assume the role of carers.
Whilst the role of on unpaid carer is vast, and can very much take a toll on on the livelihood and wellbeing of those caring, Carole, the Learning Disability Service Manager from Bede House, speaks about how the tremendous contribution their volunteers make to families has also helped build confidence and skills in themselves:
"Volunteers are essential to the smooth running of the Bede Centre; without them, it would be far more difficult to put on all the activities that we do.
Volunteers sometimes start volunteering very unsure of themselves, they may have been out of work for many years due to childcare or illness and are now tentatively reaching out towards the world of work. Volunteering at the Bede Centre gives them the opportunity to build up their skills and strengths in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.
The centre can be fun and exciting and often volunteers have the opportunities to support our clients doing things they would not normally have the chance to do themselves, like art, drama or sailing – this helps them to build up their own confidence while at the same time, giving invaluable support to others.
“I love working at Bede, it’s such a loving place with great people...and staff and volunteers having a great understanding of different needs. I’ve learnt so much and look forward to continuing to learn more!” Jade
Gradually, as their confidence increases, and they get to know the clients better, the volunteers are given more responsibilities in the centre and will sometimes end up running sessions themselves or work one to one with a client with more challenging behaviour.
“It’s given me much more confidence and hands on experience supporting and learning how to support the clients with all the different things they do at the Bede...I’ve learnt many more signs and have been able to use signs more freely to communicate with others at Bede”. Abi
I have seen volunteers blossom while helping at Bede, I have also seen clients blossom from the extra support they are receiving, support it is not always possible to provide in the busy day-to day running of the centre.
New relationships are formed, new skills are developed on both sides.
Volunteering is very much a two way thing, the carer and the client can both benefit enormously from the experience.
“I loved interacting with and learning the stories of both the service users and the service workers. Every day offered opportunities for growth, as I felt there was always some new way in which I could contribute to daily activities, as well as new things I could learn from those around me.” Vicky
Find out more & get involved!
If you are interested in learning more about Bede house or getting involvoled, you can visit their website here.
If you're interested in volunteering in Southwark and would like some support, book an advice appointment with Community Southwark. They will match your skills and interests with one of the many wonderful charities in the borough. Click here.
What is Carers Week?
Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. Read more here.
Carers Week 2019
This Carers Week 2019, we're coming together to help carers get connected. There are 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers. They will be looking after a family member or friend who has a disability, mental or physical illness or who needs extra help as they grow older. Southwark
Carers are puting on events all week!: Take a look.