Too many people are ‘suffering in silence’

Too many people are ‘suffering in silence’

22nd April 2022


A LEGION of unofficial carers are being urged to seek support as the pandemic continues to push them further into isolation.

A charity fears that too many people are ‘suffering in silence’ as they strive to care for elderly and ill family, friends and neighbours.

Durham County Carers Support, a charity with offices in Spennymoor and Darlington, that helps tens of thousands of people across the region, is concerned that referrals have dropped, particularly in remote areas such as Teesdale, because carers have become used to being on their own at home and soldiering on.

But carer Linda Edwards is urging people to seek the help they were entitled to and advice on a host of issues they might not be aware of that could improve their quality of life.

Mrs Edwards, who looks after her husband David, discovered the benefits of the advice charity 25 years ago when her father became ill while living 300 miles away from her Gainford home. She was able to gain invaluable advice and was put in touch with agencies near his Wiltshire home to help him.

She used the charity again after he died and her stepmother came to live with her who also had to live with a variety of health conditions.

“They are absolutely brilliant,” she said. “They are a listening ear. They are discreet, caring, committed, calm, encouraging and supportive without being intrusive. They are very considerate and are there when you need them, which is a tremendous relief when you don’t know which way to turn.

“Often, the problem is that people don’t even realise they are carers, they just do it for their friends, neighbours and family, without realising. They also don’t know what is out there to help them, which is where DCCS comes in by advising what the Government should provide and which other agencies are out there to access.”

After her stepmother died, her husband’s health began to deteriorate but he wanted to continue his work as an analytical chemist and she now helps him do this with support from DCCS. “You don’t consider these issues until suddenly you are in a position that is bigger than you can cope with on your own and you need advice and support,” she said.

“I felt very isolated at first when the issues arose. People can feel trapped particularly if their family live away – and Covid has made this worse. It’s also a British thing that you don’t want to talk about your problems to all and sundry. But it’s different when it’s someone with knowledge and the right background who can actually put something in place to help you. You can just pick up the phone and they will give you the time to work out what you need, some of which you don’t even know about, which is so important.”

DCCS offers a host of advice ranging from accessing benefits, including carers and attendance allowance, to occupational therapy, counselling and courses on IT, lifting and first aid, plus help for parent carers with children with educational special needs and disabilities.

“Something as simple as helping me get a blue badge revolutionised my life as it allows me to use disabled parking bays, as I too have health issues,” she said. “If you don’t know what to ask for, you can’t ask for it.

“They can also offer some respite help, carers’ breaks, anything from a couple of hours to a week, arranging for someone to come in to look after the person you care for. They organise an emergency card as well in case the carer is taken ill and the cared for person is left unattended.


“This all helps people with needs live independent lives and saves the country a phenomenal amount of money.”

Carers UK has calculated that unpaid, unofficial carers save the country £134bn a year, the total annual spend of the NHS.

DCCS chief executive Jenni Wood said: “Isolation has become exacerbated by the pandemic as people have become withdrawn and are suffering in silence. There’s absolutely no need for this and we are urging anyone in this position to reach out for our expert help.

“There are no criteria to meet, there is no stigma attached, just help in many forms, whether that is practical, financial or moral support.”

The Carer Support Group is introducing face to face meetings again with the support Teesdale worker Aileen Scott. It will meet the last Thursday of each month from 10am-noon at Woodleigh Council Office, Barnard Castle. The next meeting is on Thursday April 28.

For more details contact Aileen Scott on (01388) 439745 or email

For more information on Durham County Carers Support visit or phone Durham: 0300 005 1213 or Darlington: 0300 030 1215.

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