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An Extra Pair of Hands

Just as the first working week after the festivities ended, I had the pleasure of catching up, by Zoom of course, with author, playwright, West Sussex resident and carer, Kate Mosse. We were meeting to talk about her view of caring, the work of the Charity and hopefully to hatch a plan for something exciting for the future.

Kate has supported our work previously and had donated copies of her non-fiction book An Extra Pair of Hands: A story of caring, ageing & everyday acts of love, to support our Carers Week activities in June last year.

Kate talked to me about the joy that she has got from being a carer, but also the appreciation she has that it is not always wonderful for everyone, and in fact it can be tough. I shared with her again some of the experiences that carers in West Sussex describe, especially in managing some of the bureaucracy carers are having to work through to be able to support – sometimes just getting a blue badge can be hard work - especially if you are struggling with time and brain power because of exhaustion.

Kate reflects honestly that she has resources, a great support network at home which enables a sharing of caring for her relative, and has got well-developed research skills - which is evident from the work she puts in to give us, as her readers, great stories - skills which are handy if you are also trying to navigate complex health and care systems.

We talked about how, as a Charity, we could reach out to more people. At some point in our lives 3 out of 5 of us will become a carer, and we are now estimating that more than 120,000 carers live in this glorious County. Kate suggested that leaflets, cards, and posters in public do make a difference, but often it is about how we define being a carer and the language we use. In other words, people who need our support as a Charity may not always define themselves as a carer – we need to more specific.

Kate and I were keen to carry on the conversation, but with carers present, and so we are working on how to make that happen as a live event without depending on Zoom, as useful as that platform can be.

I know from listening to carers that Kate’s perspective on women and caring, and how everyone needs something different, but essentially wanting to be seen, heard, and included will resonate for some carers so watch this space.

In the meantime, An Extra Pair of Hands is worth reading, and the great news is that it will be available in paperback from 31 March 2022.

Thank you for your help, Kate, and thank you to all the unpaid carers reading this blog for all you have done, are doing and will do. It does make a real difference.

Sonia Mangan

CEO, Carers Support West Sussex