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Carers support programme to be axed

PUBLISHED: 12:50 23 September 2010

Caring with Confidence Reunion

Caring with Confidence Reunion

Archant

A programme dedicated to supporting thousands of carers will be axed unless funding can be found before the end of the month.

On Tuesday, Caring with Confidence, based at The Riverside Centre, Dickens Road, held a reunion of carers helped by the programme as a last-ditch attempt to find help from Kent County Council and Kent MPs.

But with little assistance from the council or support from MPs, project manager Helen Appleton said the scheme is likely to be axed. She added: “It was the last throw of the dice. These are the people who are supposed to be looking after our community so it is very disappointing.”

Gravesham MP Adam Holloway visited the centre in June to offer support after the cuts were announced but was unable to attend on Tuesday.

Caring with Confidence, which supports 1,500 people in North Kent and has more than 100,000 carers on its books county-wide, was established in October last year but has had its funding cut prematurely by the Department of Health.

Running a seven-week course, it offers carers advice and information on the support they are entitled to, as well as providing a respite from the day-to-day work of looking after a dependent.

“What people don’t realise is that if you care for someone, a mum or dad, husband or wife, you are a carer. There is a lot of help out there but people don’t know where to turn.

“We are able to offer cover so for three hours, one day a week, they can have some respite from the challenge of looking after someone constantly.”

The Department of Health has cancelled the programme, blaming the tight financial situation.

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said: “Getting the right support to carers is a priority.

“The financial outlook is extremely challenging and I am carefully scrutinising all budgets. I believe this money can be spent smarter, which is why I plan to offer more support to the carers organisations, and for carers’ training.”

Ms Appleton, a former carer, pointed out the work carers do, voluntarily, saves the NHS billions every year. She believes she could continue the programme until March with a further £30,000.

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