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Suffolk Family Carers

People having fun at a recent Suffolk Family Carers event

On any given day, you might find carers in Suffolk belly dancing, singing, sewing or enjoying arts, crafts and a cup of tea. You might even find them at a Family Fun Carnival (pictured right). These activities and others are run by Suffolk Family Carers to help families enjoy fun, social activities together as a break from caring.

Suffolk Family Carers also gives family carers of all ages support and information to help them make important decisions that affect them and the person they care for.

"We help family carers to get the breaks they often so badly need, help them to say no when they’ve had enough, and help them stay in or get back into employment if they wish," says chief executive Jacqui Martin.

Suffolk Family Carers had two part-time staff members when it opened in 1988. It now has more than 100 employees and 58 volunteers.

It regularly supports around 5,500 family carers and offers services to many others, including a helpline and advocacy support for family carers.

Bev's story 

Bev Mimms, who cares for her two sons who have mental illnesses, is just one of the thousands that Suffolk Family Carers has supported in the past year. She has been visiting the Family Carers Information and Support Centre at Claydon, near Ipswich, for nearly two years.

"I find the centre very helpful. Everyone is so friendly," she says. "I was referred to the centre by my son’s support worker. It's been amazing in pointing me in the right direction to get the support I need."

Bev finds meeting her support worker, Louise, for a coffee and a chat very helpful.

"I’ve also tried the therapies on offer, like the Indian head massage and reflexology," she says.

But Suffolk Family Carers does more than simply help carers to feel good. Where necessary, they work with other local organisations to improve services for family carers.

"We represent family carers at most key meetings across Suffolk to ensure their needs are heard and incorporated into the planning of future services," Martin says.

Young carers

As well as supporting young people aged nine to 16 whose lives are affected by their caring role, Suffolk Family Carers is also piloting a new project for carers aged between 17 and 24, who are too old for young carers’ services but not old enough for adult services.

The three-year project, called Transition, will work with young people to identify areas they want to develop, such as health matters, benefits, training or further education and respite opportunities.

Another of Suffolk Family Carers’ innovations is the creation of a hospitals team to support family carers during a stay in hospital.

"Our focus is on the family carer, whether they or the person that they care for is the patient," says Martin.

"Having identified who the family carer is, we help them find their way around the hospital system, and sometimes to give them a voice.

"Often they are in crisis and we support them through that.

"When we can, we also give them information and support to help them through the discharge process."

Contact

Suffolk Family Carers Information and Support Centre reception is open Monday-Thursday 9am-4pm and Friday 10am-4pm. Call the centre on 01473 835 400 or the helpline on 0844 225 3099.

For more information about its services, visit the Suffolk Family Carers website.

To find out how other carers got help and support in their local area, read our real stories.

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Page last reviewed: 04/01/2012

Next review due: 04/01/2014

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