Carers Matter

A major grant from the Nottinghamshire Freemasons is enabling us to offer much-needed support to carers aged 50 years+ of people with learning disabilities. We are now in the second year of our project which we call Carers Matter.

Supporting carers by helping them to plan for the future, have time for themselves, and meet others facing similar challenges

Catherine
Carers Matter Project Manager

Photo of Catherine sitting at a laptop

Hi, I’m Catherine

I’m the Project Manager for our three-year project to support family carers aged 50+ of people with learning disabilities in Nottinghamshire.

My personal experience as a carer to my son and my late brother-in-law helps me to understand the issues faced by carers today. I have well-established relationships with many of our clients and their families from my work as Centre Manager at Reach Newark and Reach Mansfield, supporting carers with direct payments and coordinating client holidays. These experiences really highlighted the urgent need for more in-depth support for carers.

Through the project I’m now supporting more than 120 family carers through phone calls, socially distanced walks, meeting up online and sharing information through a private Facebook group. We’re also now enjoying being able to meet up in small groups for a coffee and a catch up.

Some examples of the types of queries I can help with are support to liase with other agencies, helping people to find out more about their benefits entitlements and other sources of support, help to problem solve and support to think about the future.

I can help with arrangements to create time and space for you to connect with other carers, be somebody to talk to if you're feeling worried and much more. If you or anyone you know is caring for somebody with a learning disability, please do reach out to me any time on 07715 648691 or email me at catherine.shatwell@reachuk.org.

What we did for carers during the pandemic

As lockdown progressed, carers were telling us they felt excluded from ‘online society’; that they didn’t know how to use platforms like Zoom so were missing out on vital social opportunities. This was due to lack of knowledge, lack of equipment, internet problems and lack of confidence. For many, speaking to others online felt alien and strange, but activities like our 'Virtual Afternoon Tea' helped to put people at ease and made chatting with others in this way feel more natural.

Catherine on telephone

Signposting to important health messages including vaccine entitlement and changes to restrictions during the first lockdown for people with learning disabilities and their carers

carers on teams

One-to-one video conference calls and regular telephone welfare calls

carers tea

Support with benefit applications and appeals.

Oliver and Christine

Enabling carers to have their voice heard with local and national statutory bodies

carers packs

Delivery of care and wellbeing packs

Carers matter Facebook group screen shot

Created an informal Reach family carers network including access to a closed Facebook group

carers in Southwell gardem

Coffee mornings, garden visits and socially distant walks to bring carers together to share experiences and provide mutual support.

Catherine delivering flowers

Delivery of ‘caring for carers’ flowers and a doorstep chat

Carers Matter Stories

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"A surprise packet delivered on my doorstep. A cream tea with a difference…what a thoughtful and wonderful gesture. It’s to thank carers for doing their bit. We are all carers…we should all be caring for one another. Thank you Reach for going the extra mile."

– Steve, family carer to Laura


"I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Reach who do truly outstanding work across the county. These carers are older people who often lead very lonely lives, devoted to looking after a family member and Reach is there for them."

- Philip Marshall, Head of Nottinghamshire Freemasons

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"As Sarah’s dad I don’t always think of myself as a carer. You’re just doing the best you can for your son or daughter from day to day. But getting the right support makes all the difference. Even faced with all the challenges at the moment, you don’t have to be alone."

- Peter, family carer to Sarah


I have been working recently with Cheryl, who lives together in the family home with her daughter Leanne, 24 and her son Ricky, 26, who has Asperger's syndrome. We have been staying in touch throughout the recent lockdown through Zoom calls, phone calls and emails as well as delivering an afternoon tea package and some flowers. Most recently I’ve been supporting Cheryl to arrange urgently needed respite care for Ricky, helping to alleviate pressures at home whilst supporting her to plan for the family’s longer-term future as Ricky transitions into supported living accommodation.

"Catherine is my lifeline and without her and Leanne’s support I would not be able to focus on anything. I have held things in for so long but trusted Catherine to support me and we regularly talk and I know I can ring her if I need to."

– Cheryl, family carer to Ricky

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Watch Claire and James's story to find out more about the struggles faced by carers during the pandemic and how we supported them. 

"I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Reach who do truly outstanding work across the county. These carers are older people who often lead very lonely lives, devoted to looking after a family member and Reach is there for them."

- Philip Marshall, Head of Nottinghamshire Freemasons

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"As Sarah’s dad I don’t always think of myself as a carer. You’re just doing the best you can for your son or daughter from day to day. But getting the right support makes all the difference. Even faced with all the challenges at the moment, you don’t have to be alone."

- Peter, family carer to Sarah

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Watch Claire and James's story to find out more about the struggles that carers are facing during the pandemic and how we are supporting them.