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This week (8–13 June) is Carers Week, which aims to recognise the contribution that unpaid carers make to families and communities throughout the UK. Carers Trust estimates this that this unpaid care would cost £530 million per day across the UK, if it had to be provided by health and social care services.

Many carers face financial difficulties, social isolation, or poor health as a result of their caring role. During the pandemic the pressures on carers has increased as many of the services on which they rely, such as community/day centres or respite services, have been closed. In addition, the total number is estimated to have risen by 50% (Carers UK), meaning Wales may now have as many as 600,000 adult and young carers.

Amgueddfa Cymru conducted a survey towards the end of 2020 to ask carers what our museums could offer. You can find out more about why we we want to provide activities or events specifically for carers, how we think museums can help and what led to the survey, in this blog post from last year.

Responses came from both adult and young carers and were fairly consistent in the activities that people were most interested in:

  • craft/art activities that people could participate in,
  • social time with other carers, and
  • information or talks that would be useful to carers.

About two thirds of carers were interested in activities that they could attend on their own, and two thirds in activities they could attend with the person they care for. (One third of respondents were interested in both.) There was interest in both online and in-person events.

We designed a three-month trial of online carer day sessions which started in May this year. Each day, on the first Tuesday of the month, has two sessions: 2.30–3.30pm for all carers of any age, and 5–5.30pm for young carers under 26. If you are a carer and would like to attend one of the sessions on Tuesday 6 July you can book a free ticket here.

So far sessions have included:

  • drawing activities (no artistic talent needed),
  • why and how to create a playlist for someone you care for,
  • the experiences of the Amgueddfa Cymru Producers running LambCam, and
  • discussion about our Objects of Comfort initiative.

Objects of Comfort shares stories of what objects bring people solace and comfort, and the programme includes discussion sheets that carers can use with people they care for. Sometimes conversation can dry up or become repetitive if you’re with someone all the time; carers have reported how the sheets have led to some great out-of-the-ordinary discussions. You can find out more about OOC and the discussion sheets here.

We have also created and recruited for a new Support Volunteer role to help us in supporting carers and others in getting involved with Museum events, collections and activities. The volunteers who have applied have some great experience and skills and once their training is completed they will enable us to offer an even better welcome and range of activities for those who would benefit from extra support.

One aspect of the Carer Day sessions that has proved harder than we’d expected is letting people know that they are on. So many of the places where carers would normally spend time have been closed and the organisations who work to support carers have themselves been under much greater pressure during the pandemic. Even if you’re not a carer yourself, you probably know one of the 600,000 people in Wales who are – why not let them know about our Carer Days, and maybe ask if there’s anything you can do to help them during these difficult times? Thank you.

If you’d like to find out more about the Carer Days you can do so here.

If you’d like to tell us what you think about the carer days, even if you haven’t been able to attend one, you can complete an anonymous short survey here.

David Zilkha

Volunteer Co-ordinator

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