We are not invisible

This week is Carers Week (June 18-24), but to many people who are not carers it’s just another week in the calendar.

So through the Gazette I would like to explain a little of what it’s all about; this is a very important week in our diaries. This is the week that we get some recognition for the work we do looking after our loved ones 24/7.

Carers work very long hours for a laughable £55 per week. We get very tired, we get sick, we have many sleepless nights, we have no time to rest and no social life – we just cannot switch off.

Me personally, I am very happy being a carer in spite of having constant backache and a leg injury that needs rest, but I get fed up of people thinking we carers are invisible, many a time I feel like showing Oi! we exist, because a carer can also feel isolated from society which can also be a big problem.

There are six million carers in the UK, all or most of us have a smile on our faces but no one, unless a carer themselves, has any idea how much stress and heartaches that smile hides.

There is a great deal of stress in looking after someone who depends on you for everything 24/7, the heartaches comes from watching the person you love so deeply struggle to speak the words ‘I love you’ or to find some of their independence or even worse, not getting better.

When the ordinary person in the street sees someone in a wheelchair there is usually a carer – either wife, mother, father, son or daughter – standing behind it or pushing it. That carer becomes invisible, we are not invisible and a kind word or inquiry as to how we are coping as a carer goes a long way to being recognised as a human being.

Also people (as I’ve found many times) see the wheelchair and not the disabled person in it, and some people don’t even see the wheelchair which nearly always means that the occupant of that wheelchair gets knocked about causing pain and sometimes injury followed by yet another trip to A and E.

For long enough I’ve been threatening to paint my husband’s wheelchair psychedelic pink in the hope it will be noticed but as an ex-service and Aden veteran I doubt if he would approve of the colour pink.

In Alnwick (which is the worst town for wheelchair access) cars park over the dropped kerbs blocking a safe crossing for wheelchair and carers.

This causes more stress to the carers as they are the ones responsible for the safety of their loved ones. Car owners please, please don’t park in front of a dropped kerb.

So, to all the people of Alnwick and beyond, if you see someone who’s in a wheelchair or being aided by someone please give a thought to the person who’s helping or who’s behind the wheelchair because we are not invisible – we are human.

Ask if that carer needs some help because a carer can always do with an extra pair of hands, don’t be afraid to approach any carer with the offer of help, we would welcome your help gladly.

And please support our charity Carers Northumberland because without their help and support our caring responsibilities would be a lot more stressful.

One very tired carer

Name and address supplied