By Helen Thompson, Manager, Carers Information Service

When the lockdown was announced we moved our entire service for carers to our respective homes, pretty much overnight.

And, of the team of ten, six of us had home school to contend with in addition to work with our collective children ranging in age from two to 18… so you can imagine the challenges of that! One of the team is also clinically extremely vulnerable and needed to shield which, whilst living alone, has been very difficult and five of the team are carers who all saw their caring role increase significantly.

IT proved to be one of the first work issues with the unexpected change to working from home meaning that we had to use our own laptops for nearly six months, and we only had one work mobile to which all the phone calls to the Carers Information Service were diverted. Taking the franking machine home meant that, with the help of my children, I was able to complete the entire mailout of the newsletter to over 7,000 carers with the help of my children in our kitchen!

In the early weeks the majority of calls were from desperate carers relating to food supplies and the closure of essential services. However, as time went on, the number of carers that had been bereaved because of covid increased and the loneliness and isolation people were experiencing meant that our calls, carer’s assessments, and emails were more and more heart-breaking.

We had to move all the activities we normally provide for carers in the Centre online and discover what on earth Zoom was! Then when the vaccine arrived and carers were given priority, we were inundated with requests for proof of caring…. from carers all over the country. We’ve given over 100 emergency grants to carers, received over 30,000 enquiries and sent out hundreds of membership cards, emergency plans and information packs. The Council helped us access free PPE for carers, which we were able to deliver around the borough – and we still are delivering, despite the added issue of a recent petrol crisis.

Even worse is that some of us have also lost family members to covid and I think all of us have had some really difficult times, but throughout the whole of the last 18 months, we haven’t closed the Carers Information Service for a single day.

So, I think the team is pretty amazing and it is lovely for them to be recognised as such!

Certificate of Recognition presented to the CIS team by the Mayor of Croydon

about carers information service

More than 30,000 people living in Croydon care for a friend, family member, partner, or neighbour. Our Carers Information Service is here to help, offering information, advice and support to Croydon’s carers.