Lanarkshire centre performs a key role
Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to the annual general meeting of Lanarkshire Carers Centre.
I have worked with the centre on a number of occasions and I know they provide an excellent service locally, but it was brilliant to hear the variety of services they offer and personal stories about how their help can change lives.
I heard tales of carers in their 60s and 70s learning to ride bikes as that had been a long-held ambition and one which came with not just the benefit of having another form of transport to use, but also the added bonus of exercise, confidence and, most of all, fun.
It may seem trivial to some people, but that social outlet is so important for people with sometimes challenging caring responsibilities.
There are also the serious and occasionally heartwrenching tales of people struggling to get by on a pension or benefit who were put off applying for things like Carers Allowance because they thought that it would change what they already received.
One such couple were at their wits’ end. The lady had serious health problems and when her husband was diagnosed with dementia, she became his carer.
Their only income was basic State Pension and they had not applied for any other assistance as they thought it would leave them worse off.
In desperation, she called the carers centre and had a meeting with a carer support worker who helped them to apply for Carers Allowance, council tax reductions and rent help.
All in all, the centre helped them to the tune of an extra £1000 per month.
Although this outcome doesn’t happen for everyone, there is usually always something that can be done to help a carer, no matter the crisis.
Without this service, many people in Lanarkshire would be struggling financially, physically and emotionally with their unsung role as carer and now, due to a change in policy at North Lanarkshire Council, the Airdrie Carers Centre could be facing a crisis of its own.
From April next year, the right to provide such services is to go out to invited tender. The actual details of the tender are not yet known and for organisations like Lanarkshire Carers Centre, this has put plans for future services in flux.
I hope the council will come to a speedy decision to ensure local carers can still access vital support, and those who are employed by, and volunteer for, Lanarkshire Carers Centre are given certainty soon.
The Scottish Government is embarking on a journey to enshrine the rights of carers in law for the first time and to expand the support they should be entitled to.
I hope that, alongside that, the likes of the local Lanarkshire Carers Centre can continue their excellent work and expand to meet the needs of carers in this area.
Should anyone have questions regarding caring for a loved one, or feel they need extra support, please do not hesitate to contact Lanarkshire Carers Centre Airdrie on 01236 755550 or email info@ lanarkshirecarerscentre.org. uk.
Without this service, many people in Lanarkshire would be struggling financially, physically and emotionally
Crucial support Lanarkshire Carers Centre provides an “excellent service”
Important meeting The centre’s AGM