CARERS are being encouraged to apply for a grant which allows them to take a well-deserved time out from their role.
The Carers Breaks and Opportunities Scheme, administered by Sunderland Carers’ Centre in Southwick, has just awarded its 1,000th grant to carers to use for individual breaks or past-times.
Now, the scheme is looking to build on the successes of the past two years and get even more carers involved.
Charlie Telling, 62, is one of the carers to have benefited.
He used his grant to fund a season ticket for his beloved SAFC.
The former engineer is a full-time carer for wife Carol, who has primary progressive multiple sclerosis, which affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other effectively.
“I first found out about the grant in 2003 when we were going to a wedding,” he said.
“Originally, it was so a carer could have a holiday either on their own or with the person they care for, but it’s moved on since then and you can use it for lots of other things too.”
Charlie, who gave up his job in 1997 to care for Carol full-time, added: “I think a lot of the time carers forget about themselves because you’re so busy caring for someone else.
“It hit home for me when I went to see my GP and they said that I had to look after myself, because if I didn’t, who would look after Carol?” Sunderland is ranked ninth in England and Wales by the amount of carers providing at least 50 hours of care per week.
Sheila Scott, who manages the Carers’ Centre scheme, said “Caring for someone can take over someone’s life, so carers taking time out for themselves often gets pushed to the side-lines.
“We really want more carers to take advantage of the scheme, because we have seen the benefits for the vast majority of carers who have taken part so far.”
Drop-in sessions take place at The Place, Athenaeum Street, on Tuesday from 10am to 3pm, and The Millennium Centre, The Oval, Washington, on Thursdays, from 10am to 3pm, or find out more about the scheme by calling the Carers’ Centre on 549 3768.