Carers Week: Sam's story
"I've been caring for relatives with a range of illnesses, on top of full time work and professional studies, since 2001. I hadn’t thought of myself as a carer until a colleague in Wellbeing, with whom I’d been chatting about work versus life, asked if I would be interested in joining a group that they were hoping to set up for Leeds Beckett staff with caring responsibilities. For me, a carer was formal or paid assistance, not just family pulling together when times were tough. As I heard more about it, I realised I was actually a carer and so decided to join.
The Carers’ Network was great. It provided a safe space to share experiences with colleagues who understood and didn't judge, as well as signposting to external services. Although work can be an escape, a bit of structure amidst the chaos, you sometimes need real support - to which you're entitled and without an unnecessary battle to get it. When you're already physically and mentally tired, you don't need that on top of everything else you’re helping your loved ones through.
Resilience has become a popular buzzword that can allow the onus to be placed on individuals to withstand everything that is thrown at them and excuses organisations from their duty of care. Luckily, my current managers are sympathetic and I’m still in touch with empathetic colleagues from the former Carers’ Network and my friends keep me going through the harder times. I'm always happy to pay it forwards, even if it's just a listening ear, because it can make a world of difference just to speak and be heard.
So, I’m pleased to hear that the Carers’ Network is re-launching, especially as the population ages and people suffer more illnesses, of course not forgetting the current COVID-19 pandemic, because it will only become more significant to many of our lives. It’s good to know there’s support out there, if and when we need it."
If you are a carer and would like support or a 1-2-1 conversation please visit Carers Leeds at https://www.carersleeds.org.uk/ for more information.