Carers’ Week message: Don’t suffer in silence

THIS week is national Carers’ Week, highlighting the vital contribution made by carers to their families, friends and communities in providing unpaid care for someone who is ill, frail or disabled.

The theme of Carers’ Week this year is ‘in sickness and in health’, with the aim of drawing attention to the fact carers often neglect their own health.

Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive member for social care, health and housing, Cllr Carole Hegley, said: “Many carers, including children and young people, suffer because they put the needs of the person they care for before their own.

“We hope this important week will encourage carers to find out more about the wide range of support and services available to help them care for themselves.”

Wendy Abbott, of Spring Drive in Stevenage, has cared for her husband, Dougie, since he suffered a stroke 23 years ago.

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Last month she won the Carer of the Year category of the annual Comet Community Awards, which aim to recognise those in the community who work hard to help others.

Aged 48, Dougie went to bed with a headache and suffered a severe stroke, losing his speech and movement down the right side of his body.

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Overnight, he went from being an active self-employed man to being totally dependent on his wife and the support of others.

He also suffers fits, high blood pressure and diabetes and was recently diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North is an organisation which provides support services to carers, and two days each week Dougie attends the Crossroads Care Day Centre in Stevenage. He was one of the first clients at the centre when it opened in 1997.

Wendy said: “Going from having a fit, healthy husband one day to waking up and finding he’d lost all movement in his right side and his speech was very difficult.

“A lot of people don’t recognise they are a carer because they are a wife or mother.

“I cared for Dougie for three years by myself, then I had a breakdown.

“Crossroads was my first help. A district nurse told me about a carers’ event and I went along to it.

“People shouldn’t struggle on their own. They should ask for help.”

The Stevenage Carers’ Support Group, a group run by carers for carers, meets on the last Thursday of each month from 10am until noon at Stevenage Borough Council offices on Danestrete.

It provides the opportunity for carers to meet other carers in a similar position, share experiences and exchange information.

The group also provides carers with respite and social contact.

For more information, or to speak to someone in confidence about your situation, call Carers in Hertfordshire on 01992 586969, email or visit

For Carers in Bedfordshire, call 0300 111 1919 or visit

For Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North, call 01462 455578 or visit

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