Call for funding for plan to help Norfolk carers

New services are helping to ease the burden for Norfolk's carers, but plans to help them further need to be backed by cash, a meeting has heard.

A strategy to help Norfolk's 81,000 carers was unveiled last month, but concerns were raised at Norfolk County Council's health overview and scrutiny that the good work should not be derailed by cuts in the public sector.

Joy Stanley, chairman of the Norfolk Carers Council, told the meeting that Norfolk's emergency support for carers was now 'second to none' but it was now important to ensure the excellent carers' stategy was now implemented.

She said: 'I'm really concerned that the cuts will be affecting those who are not able to make a noise because their energies are used elsewhere.'

The meeting was told how the joint health and social care budget is planning to fund a 30pc increase in the number of breaks to carers in the next financial year.

Among the new services introduced this year is �160,000 for respite for people caring for the terminally ill.

The Norwich and District Carers' Forum supports 92 carers' groups, and has helped 12,590 carers this financial year thanks to �30,142 funding from the county council.

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However, it had to turn down seven requests to establish new groups, because the funding will not stretch that far.

David Todd, chief executive of the forum, said: 'I think there's a will and belief of local government to support these services for carers but I also think that they are facing huge challenges given the cuts being imposed by central government. One of our major concerns is around these smaller grants that are made for carers' support groups and we hope they will continue to be funded.'

Patients' watchdog Norfolk LINk believes that more needs to be done to reach carers and tell them what help is available.

David Sparkes, of LINk, said they wanted to see a more active approach from hospitals, GPs and the voluntary sector in helping to identify carers and to give them the 'Who Cares' information booklet.

Norwich and District Carers' Forum can be contacted on 01603 219924.

Crossroads can be contacted on 0845 450 0350. West Norfolkd Carers can be contacted on 01553 768155.

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It's stressful enough for anyone to be diagnosed with a heart condition, but for Paul Corder it is all the more worrying because he is a carer for his wife Tina.

The 50-year-old, from Hawthorne Avenue, Hellesdon, said: 'I have just found out I have a heart condition.

'If I had a heart attack and went to hospital for a month what would happen to Tina? I really don't know.'

Mr Corder is a full-time carer for Tina, who has fibromyalgia, a musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder. With the help of his two teenage daughters the family cope well, but money is tight and he finds it difficult to get away and take a break.

He enjoyed a trip away with the Princess Royal Trust for Carers some years ago, and has benefited from the We Care Appeal, set up by the Evening News' sister paper the Eastern Daily Press. Mr Corder has also accessed a carer's learning grant, but says he has not had any other help.

'I'm quite lucky because I reasonably young and fit and I'm able to leave Tina for short amounts of time.

'But some people are having to do stuff all day, every day and they never get a break.

'If they don't have the money in place to back up the new carers' strategy then it will cost them double.'