Today we were delighted to have the opportunity for some carers who access our services to meet in person with Liz Twist MP (Blaydon) and her Senior Parliamentary Assistant, Chad Male. Although our offices are still closed to visitors we created a special Covid safe environment for a small group of carers, volunteers and staff to sit down and chat together and for Liz to find out more about the reality of a caring role and how the past year has impacted upon their lives.

Volunteer Befriender (and carer), Irene Graham, met in person for the first time, Trish Dennison, who she has been providing telephone befriending support for the past year. It was a lovely emotional meeting and it really brought home the impact that a regular friendly phone call and chat can make and the value of friendship in helping to reduce isolation and loneliness.

It was a lively and varied discussion throughout the morning covering topics from ‘I did not know that I was a Carer’ to volunteering on the allotment, the government White Paper on Integrated Care, digital communications and community engagement.

Paul Forster one of our Carer Wellbeing Facilitators was asked to describe his role in the organisation and it revealed just how varied the individual needs of carers can be from day to day and what a breadth of knowledge is needed in this role.

We are very grateful to Liz Twist MP and to the carers and volunteers who were able to attend, for taking the time to pop along to John Haswell House and in the words of Lynn Bambourgh, a carer, “this is a day out for me!”

After her visit to Gateshead Carers, Liz Twist MP tweeted the following:

As #CarersWeek comes to a close, I’d like to pay tribute to all of those out there who have caring responsibilities. It was a real pleasure to visit @GatesheadCarers ealier today to meet CEO Steve Cowen alongside team members, volunteers and carers”.

“Some of the stories I heard were truly powerful, and I was even lucky enough to be there when Trish and Irene – who met through the befriending service – were able to meet physically for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic!”

“I’ll keep campaigning in Parliament and beyond for our unpaid carers, who do such a noble job without ever asking for anything in return.  I was told today they felt ‘unrecognised, unvalued and invisible’.  This needs to change.”