Becoming a carer isn’t something you can prepare for

Volunteers give aid to carers at crucial time


It can happen to anyone at any time in their lives.

Becoming a carer isn’t something you can prepare for. Whether old age, illness or injury, the circumstances leading you to look after a loved one can change family life forever.


For Justine Holmes, the roadtrip across Australia with her boyfriend Gilbert, who she’d met while they were studying at Salford University, was an adventure following their graduation.

But their car was involved in a high-impact crash leaving Gilbert critically injured and spending months in hospital. Justine suffered a head injury. “When you are 25, you neither expect to be a carer, nor know how to prepare for it,” said Justine, of Shipley.

When Gilbert was medically fit to return to the UK complications led to him being re-admitted to hospital in London for further treatment.

The distance between Justine’s home town and the capital, and the two-month time scale of treatment brought added pressure to Justine’s role. Unable to work, Justine was faced with fathoming her way through benefit entitlement.

“I didn’t know what to do and wasn’t getting any help from anyone. I kept going around in circles, being passed from one person to another, and was getting nowhere,” she said.

She was directed to Shipley-based charity, The Carers’ Resource, through her Jobcentre and met an outreach worker who was able to put her in touch with people who could help.

Through the charity, Justine also contacted SCARD (Support and Care After Road Death or Injury) and was able to meet others in similar circumstances.

“It was a real and valuable befriending experience,” said Justine. “I was able to ask questions and get answers from someone who listened and had been through what I had been through.”

A year after the accident, Justine is eager to give something back for the help and support she received. She has become a volunteer with The Carers’ Resource, and along with her fellow volunteers, is helping to meet a demand.

According to new figures from the 2011 census, there are 51,026 unpaid family carers in Bradford and Airedale – a rise of six per cent on the total at the last national poll a decade earlier.

Yet experts believe the figures may be eclipsed as many people don’t see themselves as carers.

The increase in the number of carers devoting 20 hours a week or more to a loved one has rocketed by 38 per cent – among the biggest rises in the UK.

Coinciding with Volunteers Week next week the charity is holding a recruitment drive to prompt more people to come forward and help carers like Justine who are devoting their lives to looking after loved ones.

Anna Jackson, the charity’s head of development, said: “As more people turn to us for support, the need grows for more volunteers to help us.

“We are particularly concerned at the big increase in the number of carers devoting 20 hours a week or more as this commitment is known to have a negative affect on a person’s health and well-being, as well as their ability to hold down a job.”

During Volunteers Week, the charity will also promote ‘Caring Callers,’ a scheme to reach out to carers and vulnerable older people with support and information and ‘Home from Hospital’ a newly launched project easin patients who’ve had a spell in hospital back into home life.

“Volunteers Week equips us with a perfect opportunity to both celebrate and showcase all the good work that our team of volunteers do on a day-to-day basis, and to appeal to others in the community to follow in their footsteps,” said Anna.

“There is no shortage of talent or enthusiasm within the Bradford and Airedale community to make a difference to people’s lives – and we have a raft of opportunities to suit volunteers from all walks of life, with a range of skills and whatever windows of their time they are able to commit.

“Volunteering is a rewarding way of giving something back to the local community as well as increasing your self worth and confidence, and giving you the chance to work as a team and can offer a new route into employment.”

As part of its supporting role to carers, the charity also organises activities such as African drumming – said to bring therapeutic benefits through keeping participants focused on music; computer classes and drop-in sessions.

To promote its work, pay tribute to its volunteers and encourage potential volunteers to come forward, the charity is staging an event during Volunteers Week at Salts Mill, Saltaire, next Wednesday.

A separate event for the Craven area covered by the charity takes place at Craven Museum in Skipton next Tuesday. To find out more about this event call (01756) 700888.

For more information about volunteering or training opportunities in Bradford and Airedale call The Carers’ Resource on (01274) 449660 or visit To find out more about the charity’s Home from Hospital or to find out more about becoming a volunteer with the scheme call (01274) 531377.

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