This week we are supporting Carers Week!
04 June 2023
Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.
It also helps people who don't think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
The campaign is brought to life by thousands of individuals and organisations who come together to provide support for carers, run activities, highlight the vital role carers play in our communities and draw attention to just how important caring is.
Our Head of Serious Injury, Carol Hopwood, who is a Trustee of Headway Sefton spoke to some of the fantastic volunteers at Headway Sefton about why they care, here are some of the amazing things they had to say:
“I care for my partner after a traumatic brain injury in December 2011, after leaving hospital 2.5 years later I was just so happy that he could come out the hospital and lead a life that resembled his old life.
Life was different for us and has remained that way. I am not going to say it is better or worse it’s just different.
Tommy and I realised very early on that if you don’t accept the situation you will never move on and learn to enjoy your new life but not forget the memories of your old life.
I’m lucky I have a great team around me from carers who adore him (as does most people who take the time to get to know him) I have a lot of family and friends as well as my beloved Headway Sefton who support me continuously hence why I like to give back and volunteer my time to other people in situations like “My Tommy”.
I take great pleasure in my caring role and pride myself on how well he is both physically and mentally despite his disabilities, this is why I always advocate to others that, for me, caring for him is not a chore but it’s a pleasure ( well most of the time but we are all human and have bad days).
After 11 years of my caring role I was nominated for an award, I am the Headway UK “carer of the year “ a title I did not expect for one minute to get due to the millions of other amazing carers we have in this country who care because they love the people they are caring for whether it’s a partner, parent or sibling.”
On the 7th January 2008 our lives drastically changed forever. My lovely husband suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident at work, the man that went to work that morning came back to us so, so changed. 15 years on the challenges I face are still soul destroying, frustrating, exhausting, mind boggling, crazy times and then his old self comes back and my heart soars. But then, like the flick of a switch, the smallest thing like having to change a plan in our day and his fuse can blow, then it's back to reality. I can cry, lots.... and I swear lots now, under my breath, I feel like screaming my head off. It's flipping hard being a carer.”
“I volunteer here at Headway Sefton, behind the scenes we talk to and visit new members who are struggling, who are at the beginning of their brain injury journey. I personally backed away as everything brain injury I couldn't cope with so now l've been helped, dragged, inspired by other members and volunteers I want to throw myself into a role at Headway Sefton. I've just finished writing my first bid for a grant which I never in a million years thought I had the skills to do so, watch this space. I chat with other carers and offer support and a listening ear. We plan things out, we fundraise, we shop, we organise, we listen, we support as volunteers - we are here day and night for our members and their carers to lend a hand. It is the most rewarding thing you can do. Prior to Andrew's brain injury, I was the PTA chair I loved seeing the kids thrive. Now my PTA is for adults who need us, and I love it.
It’s time to give, time to help those who helped us in our crisis. Without you all at Headway Sefton I dread to think where my family would be today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“I care for my husband, and have done for the last 2 and a half years. Our life changed very quickly when he was hit by a car as a pedestrian. He has a severe frontal brain injury and epilepsy now.
Caring for him has been extremely stressful. Mostly because a lot of people question the decisions we make and we have very little privacy.
Because my husband can walk and talk, my caring role is very much questioned by others and I’m asked daily ‘when are you going back to work?’ ‘why don’t you have a job’ and even ‘your husband needs to get a job now’. People have no idea of the complexities he/me face. My husband struggles to piece his day together and cannot grasp how things are related to another, or how things are not related. I spend a lot of time explaining things to him (I’ve just needed to interrupt a ‘cold call’ whereby my husband was about to sign up to a random standing order). He struggles to follow conversations and has severe sensory overload.
I spend a lot of time planning my husband’s activities with him, helping him stay on track with his day and pacing him so he doesn’t get exhausted/have a seizure. Whilst running the home and caring for a young child, life is very challenging and we constantly walk on eggshells as he doesn’t have a firm grip of his emotions yet.
Before I become a carer, I thought the role meant personal care and feeding, but mine is different to that. The care I provide is essential to my husband’s wellbeing but to outsiders who are oblivious to his condition, I truly believe they think I read magazines all day and lounge around watching tv. I’m exhausted and cry a few times a week to myself”.
“Nobody ever imagines their lives catastrophically changing, in one fail, accidental swoop.
We’re blind to ill winds, it has to be this way.
No one can imagine how the dense weight of the world feels, until your back is buckling beneath the sodden loading pressure.
How could you ever imagine that one day you might just wish things had been more unfavourable than the accident itself!
Having sole responsibility for yourself, your kids, career and home is pressure enough.
Add the unexpected duty of suddenly having to care for your adult partner 24/7, and all that they were once responsible for too, is undeniably, a plate cracking block-buster of a show.
Everyone’s focus is naturally centred on the brain injured individual - especially your own.
Other duties slip down neglected, adding to the jungle of monkeys jumping on your back.
And then, the sleep begins to falter, your own health plummets, and the dominoes start to teeter.
Nobody could ever imagine that there’d be zilch support after discharge!
Even family bore, hearing you wail. There’s no remarkable visible damage so you learn to silently muddle on.
Guilt begins to weave into the insidious feelings of resentment, creating a tangled web of emotions, too difficult to unknot, pushing them away.
And life goes on. And on, and on.
And then, as it happens, God blows a whisper, out of the blue, a glimmer of shining armour, clinking along, in the guise of an earthly angel, dressed in the law.
A heavenly sent messenger, heralding hope!
A smiling hand to hold who, most vitally, ‘gets’ the reluctant tolls you pay.
Shining the torch and lighting the way.
Without that fateful meeting, that most casual of ominous days, my brain injured husband would most certainly not be living today.
Me? I believe I’d have walked.
How could anyone ever imagine that one day they’d be grateful for charity.
For ears that will listen and eyes that won’t roll.
Thank God for that meeting and for the charity called Headway.“
Read more about carers week here: https://www.carersweek.org/