Christmas can be a challenging time for carers. Having to care, unpaid, for a friend or family member due to an illness, disability, mental health problem or addiction they have is difficult enough without the other stresses of the festive season, and it’s easy to see how this time of year can become all too much. A survey by Carers Trust shows that over a quarter of young carers have had to wrap their own presents at Christmas as their parents were too ill or disabled to do so, whilst over one in five have gone without presents in the past.
Heather White, our receptionist in Leeds, tells us how the campaign came about “We wanted to give local carers a chance to have a little ‘me’ time and enjoy something special for themselves. I usually start the process early November, asking staff to donate any unwanted gifts, which I can put together to make a present for a carer. Some staff members choose to donate money and I will go out and buy something. It doesn’t matter how small the item is, it can always be put with something else which I can wrap to make a lovely present for a carer.”
Val Hewison, CEO of Carers Leeds, said: “Honestly, you wouldn’t believe the excitement in the office when these beautiful gifts appear. Everyone knew carers they wanted a gift for…many of whom are more isolated, many younger adult carers, many very elderly and frail but all who are doing the very best caring for their loved ones. These are the ‘hidden’ carers, they can’t get out to attend the events we hold, they can’t even leave the person they care for, for a few hours.
“So there is no better way for us to say a big thank you to them for the tireless work they do than giving them a gift for themselves. I do believe every family carer wants to do the very best for the person they are caring for and it gives us immense pleasure to hand over a gift to them to say thank you and we care.”
We have raised over £170,000 for Carers Trust since 2008. This deserving cause resonates with many of our staff and customers, as it work to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addition problems.