Meet the volunteers working hard to support Sheffield's 'unsung hero' carers
“I wanted to give a bit of summat back,” says Pete Murray, when explaining how he came to be a volunteer with Sheffield Carers Centre.
Pete, who lives in South Yorkshire, first came to the centre when he was caring for his mother, who was living with dementia.
“Everyone at the centre was nice and friendly,” he recalls.
“They were always ready to help, and give me any advice I needed.”
Some 25 years on, and Pete is still a volunteer with the centre – now based at Concept House on Young Street – working as a member of a small team responsible for putting out the charity's newsletters several times a year.
Now aged 73, Pete struggles with arthritis in his hands, but says he is still keen to do all he can to help out and to continue to give back.
He says: “It gets me out of the house and gives me something to do.
“I hope it helps other people too.”
Working alongside Pete in the newsletter team are other faithful volunteers: Frank Pegg, June Hodson, Elaine Heeley, Marie Miller, Ruth Mansell and Elaine Sanderson.
Between them, the members of this kind-hearted group have racked up 86 years of incredible voluntary service for the Sheffield charity.
The team's newest member is Marie Miller, a now-retired social worker from Crookes.
Marie has helped with every newsletter for the last five years.
She said: “Sheffield Carers Centre provides an enormous service in Sheffield and anything I can do to support their work, I will do.”
Sheffield Carers Centre has been providing support services, specialist advice, advocacy, and practical help to carers in the city for over 25 years, since it launched in 1993.
The Carers Centre has earned itself a reputation as a ‘one-stop shop’ for adult carers in the city and is commissioned as the lead provider of services by Sheffield City Council.
As a charity, it seeks to reach out to all carers and to ensure that their needs are being met.
It has 12,000 carers on its carers’ register and sends out a regular newsletter, as well as providing telephone and face-to-face support to local carers, along with one-to-one help and access to group activities.
The charity’s primary mission is to support those caring for a loved one.
The charity defines a carer as someone who provides unpaid care to a friend or family member who otherwise could not manage, due to a disability, illness, being elderly, frail, or having a mental health problem, or an addiction.
The charity’s chief executive Pauline Kimantas took the opportunity this week to pay tribute to the contribution and long service of hard-working volunteers, who she says are invaluable, and help to keep everything going.
She said: “Carers are the unsung and unpaid heroes of our health and social care system, supporting those with who are ill, disabled, elderly or suffer with addiction.
“Sheffield Carers Centre’s vision is of a city where all carers are recognised, valued and effectively supported to enable them to continue caring in the way they choose and to have a life of their own; a city where carers’ contribution is respected and acknowledged.”
Sarah Knightley, the charity's volunteer coordinator, added :“Our volunteers enable us to reach out and support thousands of carers through our range of services.
“Volunteers bring their listening skills, kindness and commitment to the roles.
“Last year alone we trained up 69 volunteers to support carers in the city on the phone, to help with administration, and to work with us to promote Carers Centre services.”
Now, Sheffield Carers Centre is looking to recruit more volunteers to its team.
They’re seeking people to befriend carers who are especially isolated, as well as those in hospital, and supporting carers who reach out to the charity by calling the Carer Advice Line.
Lynne Muscroft, who is already working for the charity as a Carer Advice Line volunteer, said: “Carers can feel isolated and being able to reach out and find someone to communicate with is a gift that, as a volunteer, you are able to give.
“I promise you will not regret it.”
If you are interested in helping to support unpaid carers in the city through Sheffield Carers Centre, email email@example.com or contact the charity by phone on 0114 2728362 for more details.
Visit sheffieldcarers.org.uk for more information on the charity's services.