Powys Councillors have pledged their support for unpaid Young and Adult Carers after hearing their stories in the Council Chamber this week.

The move comes in recognition of the vital contribution made by carers across the county, who provide care and support to loved ones with ill health or disability.

Councillors heard from several carers from across Powys during a session on Monday, March 27.

The councillors have committed to raising awareness of the estimated 35,000 carers of all ages across Powys, who often go unnoticed and undervalued.

Despite being a largely invisible group, carers provide an estimated 96 per cent of care in the community, which is worth over £8 billion to the Welsh economy.

As part of their pledge, the councillors have vowed to consider and collaborate with Young and Adult Carers in making decisions and developing policies on Health and Social Care. This will ensure that the voices of carers are heard and their needs are taken into account when shaping local services.

In addition, the councillors will be inviting others in the community to support, value and respect Young and Adult Carers. This includes local schools, services and community groups, who can play a vital role in raising awareness and providing support to carers.

Cllr Sian Cox, portfolio holder for adult social care said: “I thought I couldn't become more impressed by Credu and the unpaid young and adult carers they work with, but I was wrong; today they sent my admiration and respect for them to new heights.  Their presentation was fascinating, moving, funny, inspiring and humbling.  These are some of the busiest people in the county, for whom time is full to the brim with responsibilities, but they came to County Hall to tell us not only about their lives and challenges, but also about the creative, imaginative and collaborative ways in which they strive to help other carers.

“I urge everyone to become unpaid carer-aware; be assured that they are in your community, probably under the radar, delivering a volume of care and support that no local authority could ever match; and your recognition of them, and your acknowledgement of the enormous service they provide to society, would mean a great deal to them.”

Hayley Pugh, parent carer and now also respite co-ordinator from Credu, added: “It was an amazing day! So proud of our carers and all the councillors that are joining up to champion Credu and Carers. 

“It's amazing what can happen when people come together and truly listen. Watch this space - exciting times!”

The presentation was chaired by carer, Kim Spelman, who, like Hayley was delighted with how intently and respectfully the councillors listened to the carers, and the spirit of collaboration and commitment that followed.

Among those who spoke were 82-year-old Meiriona Davies, from Ystradgynlais, described her life journey as a young carer for her mother from the age of seven, and now a parent carer for her adult daughter with autism and cerebral palsy as well as her husband, a stroke survivor. Meiriona, active in supporting other Carers in her local community, explained how there are so many silent carers; invisible and isolated.

18-year-old Emily Bleakley from Newtown described looking after her mother when she was 14 who was terminally ill and her brother with autism. She described how tough it has been, how important support is and how difficult it is to decide whether or not to go to university when you have caring responsibilities.

85-year-old Elizabeth James from Llandrindod Wells described looking after her daughter with learning difficulties; still getting up in the night to comfort her when she is anxious. Elizabeth and her husband were farmers. They never claimed Carer’s Allowance or benefits they were entitled to, because they could manage off the income of the farm.

However when Elizabeth was widowed and finances got tight, she was not entitled to any financial support. Carer’s Allowance or additional financial support is not available to people on a pension.

Another older Carer, Christine Jenkins, from Ystradgynlais, described looking after her husband with dementia through lockdown along with the isolation and the challenges she experienced. Both Christine and Elizabeth feel very passionately about accessible, regular and day care as a way of supporting people needing care and their families.

Laura Hares, a parent Carer from Welshpool, described her own caring journey for her son and how, like so many others, she didn’t realise that she was a Carer. She also described how she and other Carers from Welshpool have found finding paid care workers, to help make caring manageable, a huge challenge. This is a symptom of the social care crisis of the day across the country. However, Laura also explained how she is now coming together with other Carers to develop a new model of community based day care and social care workforce development. The councillors were deeply interested in the cutting edge concept that Laura set out before them.

Councillors were moved and inspired. Many could relate, having caring experiences of their own. Some are already active champions of the Carer’s cause.

Cllr Peter James said: “Becoming a carer can happen overnight to any of us. In our family we look after our mother and help each other to do that.

“My great nephew suffered a stroke at the age of nine; his parents became carers overnight as did my sister and brother in law, while also looking after our 90-year-old mother after an operation. We all need to look after each other and look out for Carers.”

If you look after someone or you would like to champion Young / Adult Carers in your community or organisation, please do contact Credu Supporting Young and Adult Carers. They would love to hear from you: 01597 823800 / [email protected].

Credu are commissioned by Powys County Council with Powys Teaching Health Board and funded from donations and trust funds.