Serving the people of Bradford, Harrogate, Selby and Craven Districts

"Carers’ Time Off service is a godsend"

Ripon carer Chris describes what Carers’ Time Off means to her.

“I do go out and leave my husband on his own sometimes, but the constant stress that incurs is totally underestimated by everyone I know apart from other carers. I rush there and back, wondering if he is ok or has fallen over and needs me and I have let him down by going to the dentist, doctor etc and leaving him on his own. When a befriender is with him I can go out and relax knowing he is safe and happy.

My husband has cerebellar ataxia which is not a well known illness. His speech is affected but he is still compos mentis so although it takes him a while to respond he does understand the questions and can join in conversations. Most people do not wait for him to reply but both his befrienders listen and wait for him to talk. I really feel this has given my husband more confidence to talk to people. It makes him feel normal. He looks forward to them coming and gives him something to talk about to me.

I cannot stress enough how a service like this can help a carer like myself. Being a full-time carer can be totally isolating and exhausting. This service gives me some respite and I feel relaxed either staying in and reading a book or going out. The Carers’ Time Off service is a godsend to people like me and my husband.

Recently, I went to an outing with the Carers’ Time Off group. I am always a bit nervous about going to places I haven’t been because I am a novice pushing my husband in a wheelchair and worry I might get stuck. We both had a lovely time. We were with other people with various conditions but we were all really mindful of each other. We had fun. I really wish there could be more outings but I know it is difficult to arrange and obviously can be expensive. It was just so lovely to meet up with people going through similar things to myself and learning from them or telling them about things that help us.”

Carers’ Time Off has been able to match two volunteers with Ken and Chris, who each bring something different to the project but have kindness and patience in common. Although the original male volunteer, Ian, was going to be temporary due to travelling distance, the relationship developed so well that the volunteer decided to continue with his fortnightly visits. The second volunteer Claire, works full-time and has a young family yet still manages to volunteer visiting Ken around her shift pattern.

Chris said: “Claire is amazing, she sits and chats with Ken (my husband), sometimes they colour in, they have been to cafes and recently have started going swimming. Ken loves being with Claire and I know he is in safe hands. Whilst they are at swimming I go to pilates and can fully relax knowing he is having fun too. Claire isn’t just a befriender she has become a friend too. She isn’t just there for Ken, if I have a bad day she listens and if she can help she will. I would not have met her without Wendy and Carers’ Resource so I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart.”

Volunteer befriending can be challenging but rewarding and enjoyable too as Claire describes: “I’ve been visiting Ken for over a year now and I can say that we have become firm friends. Ken and I colour together whilst chatting and listening to music. Ken has a wicked sense of humour and can be very mischievous at times. We have been out for breakfast and lunch a few times together and have started swimming together. It is great to see Ken enjoying himself in the water and seeing him grow in confidence. I’ve also become close to Chris too and have gained two new friends from befriending.

“The benefits of being a befriender is becoming friends with people from different backgrounds and hearing about their past experiences. I believe that it has helped with my confidence and mental health as I’m doing something rewarding and giving the carer some quality time to their self and that they’ll both have something new to talk about when I have gone.”