Carers across Northamptonshire gathered for a Great British Bake Off style cake contest yesterday, the first in their calender of events lined up to mark national Carers Week.
More than 20 bakers submitted their entries for the judging in a bid to win a week’s holiday at the NHS group’s holiday lodge in Norfolk. In the end, after much deliberation, the prize was won by Hansa Paw, who wowed voters and judges with her chocolate sandwich cake, decorated with tiny cupcakes and edible flowers.
Gaynor Roberts, service manager at the Wellingborough-based centre, said: “Today is about getting together and raising awareness. but also about giving our carers a little break and a chance to get involved in something fun and meaningful. It’s the first time we’ve done something like this. but I think we’d like to do it again.”
The theme for this years Carers Week (June 4-18) across the country is ‘Care in the Community’ and is particularly geared towards identifying people who act as carers for disabled or vulnerable people at home, but who are unaware of the support available to them.
Mrs Roberts said: “One in 10 of us act as carers, but not everyone recognises themselves as a carer and don’t know that there are services here to help them.
“Around 40 per cent of people who work as carers suffer from depression and anxiety but we have all sorts of services, accessible through our helpline, as well as our group sessions and cafes where carers can socialise and support each other. We also have special services to support our young carers who vary in age from five years old up to 18.
Unpaid family carers underpin social and healthcare services in the UKGaynor Roberts, service manager
“One of our main priorities is the health and wellbeing of our carers so we can help with deals on gym memberships and different sorts of therapies. Unpaid family carers underpin social and healthcare services in the UK, saving the country £119 billion per year, so it is important to support their wellbeing so they can continue in their crucial role.”
She added: “Being a carer can be very, very rewarding and fulfilling with many positives as well as the difficulties. Nobody here would want to give up their role, but it is difficult and, without support, it can have a big impact on your life.”
During today’s event, carers from across the county submitted, tasted and votes each other’s baked entries, but the final decision was made by a select judging panel, including two Women’s Institute members and Northamptonshire Carers director, Mark Major.
Mr Major said: “The number of carers in the UK is predicted to increase by approximately 65 per cent over the next 30 years. Despite this, carers often still remain isolated in their communities. As three in five people will be carers at some point in their lives, caring for a loved one is an issue that touches us all.”
To continue raising awareness, volunteers with Northamptonshire Carers will be in GP surgeries, chemists and Sainsbury’s stores all over the country throughout the week, helping to identify people who may qualify as carers without realising. The week will culminate with a special ‘Last Night of the Proms’ concert event by the group’s own choir on Saturday (June 13) at Northampton High School from 7.30pm.
Sarah Drage, event organiser, care advisor and group worker, said; “The Northamptonshire centre is one of the first in the county to have its own choir and I am immensley proud of them.
“Since starting in June 2012, we have 30 members aged from their twenties through to their eighties and it’s a great way for them to relax, recharge their batteries, and just make a few friends.
“They have been practising very hard and it sounds great. A brass band have kindly volunteered to support us on the night and there will be all the pomp and ceremony of traditional Proms music, as well other music and even some Victoria Wood sketches.”
More than 150 tickets have already been sold for the event - which will include a ploughmans dinner and strawberries and cream - but there are still spaces available. Tickets are £10 for adults, free for under 16s, and there will also be a raffle and a bar. To book, call Northamptonshire Carers on 01933 677837.
If you think you may qualify as a carer, or know of somebody you might, you can fill in a simple questionnaire at: www.wholooksafteryou.co.uk