Survey asks young carers and young adult carers how Coronavirus has affected them

A recent Carers UK survey found that 70% of carers are providing more care due to Coronavirus, with 35% of carers providing more care as a result of the closure or reduction of local services.

Carers Trust has launched a survey to find out how young carers aged from 12 up to 25 have been affected by Coronavirus, and what support they need.

The findings of the survey will help influence decision makers to give young carers and young adult carers the support they need.

Can you help young carers and young adult carers by adding your voice and filling out the survey? And please spread the word with your friends who are also young carers to make sure as many people as possible take the survey.

The survey is live now and will run up to 23 June.

Local people urged to add their voice to ‘Make Caring Visible’ message this Carers Week

This Carers Week (8 to 14 June) Iain Gray MSP is asking local people to help recognise the vital contribution made by unpaid carers in East Lothian and show that they want to ‘Make Caring Visible’ by adding their voice online during the week.

Carers Week is the annual campaign to highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.

The ‘Make Caring Visible’ theme for this year’s week is particularly relevant during the COVID-19 outbreak when so many carers have been shielding to protect vulnerable family members. It takes less than a minute to visit the Carers Week website and add your voice to the online voices wall in support of the week.

Ahead of this year’s week, Mr Gray has also welcomed the news that Carers of East Lothian has received an award from the University of Edinburgh’s Community Grant Scheme to help fund a project to deliver music therapy workshops for unpaid carers.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“This Carers Week our community is recognising the vital contribution of unpaid carers across East Lothian and all that they do to care and support loved ones. The last few months have put even greater pressure on unpaid carers many of whom have experienced additional financial and caring responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The theme for this year’s week is make caring visible, which I fully understand and support, and I hope local people will add their voices online. However, visibility must be matched by tangible ongoing help and assistance. That is why I’ve already spoken out about the need for decision-makers at all levels to do more to ensure that carers are properly supported with their caring duties not just during Carers Week but throughout the year, every year.”

On behalf of the Carers Week charities, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“This year it is more important than ever to raise the profile of caring and recognise the enormous contribution made by unpaid carers, who throughout the COVID-19 outbreak have played an essential role supporting friends and family who are older, disabled or seriously ill. I am delighted that so many individuals and organisations are getting involved with virtual activities, helping carers to connect to others and access advice and information.   

“Looking after someone can be a hugely rewarding experience, but it sometimes comes with difficulties, including getting the right support. This Carers Week all parts of the community – family and friends, employers, businesses, schools, health and care services – should do their bit to make caring visible and recognise carers’ vital contribution to society.”

Carers Week is the largest annual carers awareness campaign in the UK, in Scotland led by Carers Scotland. In 2020, Carers Week has the support of four other national charities: Age Scotland, Carers Trust Scotland, Scottish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Oxfam Scotland.

To add your voice to the campaign and find out more about local activities visit www.carersweek.org

Edinburgh University micro-grants scheme

The University of Edinburgh’s micro-grant scheme for small scale community activities and local action has been refocused to assist with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community organisations and charities based in East Lothian can apply for up to £500 through the scheme for projects or activities that are responding to COVID-19 in the local area. The funding is available all year round, and all applications will be reviewed by a panel.

Commenting on the scheme, Iain Gray MSP said:

“I welcome the refocusing of this micro-grants scheme to assist with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many local charities and community groups undertaking excellent work to assist communities during the outbreak and this scheme offers another avenue for helping fund small scale community activities and local action.”

If you would like to apply for a larger grant, the University of Edinburgh also has a Community Grants Scheme, which is open twice a year for awards of up to £5,000.

Find out more about the micro-grants scheme and how to apply at www.ed.ac.uk/local/community-grants/micro-grants

Iain helps mark Dementia Awareness Week

Today marks the start of this year’s Dementia Awareness Week, which runs until 7th June.

Alzheimer Scotland raises awareness of its work and encourages people to support them during the week, so that they can continue to make sure nobody faces dementia alone.

This week is understandably different to other years, and we must recognise the impact that coronavirus has had on many people with dementia and their carers.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“The number of Scots suffering Dementia, and the huge expected increase in the number of people with the condition in the next few years, is one of the biggest issues facing families and communities.  Pretty well every family has experience of this disease, I know that several branches of my own family are affected, and we are no different from anyone else.

“That makes Dementia Awareness Week and the opportunity it presents to raise both awareness and funds all the more important and I’m pleased to join efforts to help increase understanding of the condition.”

Alzheimer Scotland’s Chief Executive, Henry Simmons, has recorded a video to talk about Dementia Awareness Week during the coronavirus pandemic, which can be viewed here.

Visit Alzheimer Scotland’s website for more information about the week and how you can support it www.alzscot.org/dementia-awareness-week-2020.

Memory map competition launched

Cockenzie and Tranent CARS and Salt of the Earth have launched a new competition open to everyone in the Fa’side, Preston, Seton, Gosford areas.

The organisers want to see how young people (up to age 18) are seeing and exploring their surroundings during lockdown. To enter, children from Tranent, Prestonpans and the surrounding villages, just need to make a memory map of their local town/area/street. They can use anything to create their map – computers, paints, textiles, collage – be as inventive as you like!

Welcoming the competition, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Lockdown has been a strange time for all of us but most especially children. Many will have been exploring places nearby they have never seen before or seeing places they are familiar with in a new light.

“This competition is a great opportunity for them to capture these memories and help other children and adults cherish the things that they find interesting and exciting in our local communities.”

The deadline to enter is 1st July 2020 and there is a fantastic range of prizes on offer, and winning entries will be displayed across the area. Email your map to regeneration@eastlothian.gov.uk, or mail to the Port Seton Centre, South Seton Park, Port Seton EH32 0BQ (FAO Daniel)

Find further details about the competition at www.facebook.com/TranentRegeneration or https://twitter.com/TranentRegen

Huge effort to ‘keep county fed’ during pandemic recognised at Holyrood

The collective effort made by local groups to keep East Lothian fed during the COVID-19 pandemic has been recognised in a motion lodged at the Scottish Parliament.

Submitted by local MSP Iain Gray, the motion thanks East Lothian Council, local farmers, supermarkets and other businesses, charities, community and resilience groups, as well as hundreds of local volunteers, for their involvement in helping to keep food on people’s tables during the crisis.

Speaking about the motion, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Ensuring that supplies of food and drink have continued to reach local shops and supermarkets, as well as those who have been unable to leave their homes during lockdown, was always going to be one of the biggest logistical issues to overcome during this crisis. All of the businesses, workers, community groups and volunteers involved in this effort have shown great commitment, compassion and innovation to ensure that people have been able to get the food they need.

“Of course it has been tough for many, with significant additional pressures for staff working in the food retail sector, and businesses and charities facing various new problems resulting from the pandemic. But all of the sectors and groups involved have worked together to overcome these problems and, crucially, ensure that vulnerable residents have been able to access support with obtaining food and other essentials when required.

“Everyone involved in this huge county-wide effort should be very proud of what they have achieved in these extraordinary circumstances and I’m pleased to be able to thank them all for helping keep food on people’s tables during this emergency.”

The full motion reads as follows:

Title: The Groups Keeping East Lothian Fed During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Motion Text:

That the Parliament commends everyone who has helped ensure that people in East Lothian, especially the most vulnerable and those who are shielding, have continued to be fed during the COVID-19 pandemic; believes that this has involved a wide range of public bodies, businesses, third sector groups and volunteers, including East Lothian Council and its area partnerships, farmers and agricultural sector workers, food producers, processers and distributors, supermarkets, convenience stores and other food retailers and takeaway outlets, and numerous charities and community groups including East Lothian Foodbank, Dunbar Basics Bank, Our Community Kitchen in Haddington, Fundamental Foods, which is run by the Pennypit Community Development Trust, East Lothian Roots and Fruits, Fresh Chicken Dinner Boxes, Heavy Sound in Tranent, Fareshare Hub at Port Seton Centre, Community Carrot in Dunbar, Home-Start East Lothian, Dirleton Good Neighbours Community Larder, and the county’s day centres, community councils, churches, rotary clubs and local resilience groups, and thanks all of the staff and volunteers who have been engaged in this huge effort to help keep food on people’s tables during the emergency.

Iain thanks local volunteers as annual week begins

Volunteers’ Week Scotland 2020 is taking place from 1-7 June. This year it is all about recognising and thanking volunteers for their outstanding efforts supporting their communities.
During the annual week, hundreds of events and celebrations take place across the country, saying thank you to volunteers and recognising their invaluable and diverse contribution to the UK.
This year has seen thousands of volunteers going above and beyond as they joined the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and supported local people and communities through the crisis.
Giving his backing to the week and thanking local volunteers for their contribution, Iain Gray MSP said:
“Volunteers’ Week is always an important and welcome opportunity to thank the army of unpaid volunteers who work so hard throughout our communities. Whether it is caring for loved ones, fundraising for a charity, coaching a sports team or helping run a local project, volunteers are the backbone of our communities.
“East Lothian’s thousands of volunteers work tirelessly all year round. But the last few weeks have served to further emphasise their crucial importance with the sudden and unprecedented demand for support from charities, communities and resilience groups as the county responded to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.
“The crisis has underlined just how vital the work of volunteers is to the fabric of our society and, at the beginning of this important week, I send all of East Lothian’s volunteers my heartfelt thanks for everything they do to help keep communities safe, healthy and supported.”

Please join in with the week and share your thank you message to local volunteers at www.volunteersweek.scot/get-involved/

Supporting Child Safety Week

Child Safety Week (1 to 7 June 2020) is an annual community education campaign week run by national charity the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT).

This year the week is changing in response to COVID-19, in order to help meet the changing needs of families and the frontline staff who support them during the pandemic. CAPT has adapted the Child Safety Week Parents’ Pack, so it helps parents take on child safety successfully.

The charity has also developed new content that practitioners can use right now in their digital communications, however they’re reaching out to families. This includes its top tips for child safety during lockdown and beyond, plus advice on preventing burns and poisoning.

CAPT is also reworking the Child Safety Week Action Pack as a year-round resource, so practitioners can use it in face-to-face work with families as lockdown eases.

Ahead of the start of the week, which he will be helping to promote, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Most children continue to be at home most of the time, which can be an incredibly challenging situation for parents. As well as coping with home schooling and other issues raised by lockdown, they also have to ensure that their children stay safe and avoid accidents.

“This means that Child Safety Week will be timely for many parents. It offers an opportunity to consider top tips for child safety during lockdown and beyond and put in place measures to help avoid accidents or other mishaps at home.

“The Child Accident Prevention Trust’s website and social media contain a wealth of useful advice and information and are well worth a visit during the week.”

Find out more about Child Safety Week at www.capt.org.uk/Pages/Category/child-safety-week

Leaflet highlights support for those facing financial issues

A new leaflet bringing together information on a wide range of welfare support and income advice has been developed to support residents in East Lothian struggling with financial impacts of Covid-19.

Across East Lothian, services that provide financial advice and food have seen a rise in demand for their services as the economic impacts of Covid-19 are felt. This includes households who have seen their income fall due to furlough or reduced hours, being unable to work due to lockdown or care responsibilities, or who have lost their job.

Continuing to pay Council Tax and council rent remains important, meaning the council can continue with its work and vital services.

East Lothian Council’s Revenues and Welfare Support team created the leaflet to draw together a wide range of information including on Universal Credit, new style benefits for self-employed people, statutory sick pay and crisis grants. It also includes details for people in private lets or who own their own home. Contact details for organisations such as Citizens Advice and the DWP are included.

Commenting on the new resource, Iain Gray MSP said:

“The support and advice provided by staff at East Lothian Council during this pandemic has been outstanding. This includes its Welfare Rights team who have continued to help local people throughout the crisis.

“Many households are already facing significant financial hardship as a result of the economic impact of lockdown and this is only set to continue in the weeks and months ahead. Given the scale of the difficulties people are experiencing, this kind of one-stop resource will be vital to help ensure those in need can access the help they require as quickly as possible.”

Depute Council Leader Cllr Norman Hampshire said:

“We know that Covid-19 is having an impact on household finances as well as their health. For some residents – such as self-employed people – this is an entirely new situation.

“Continuing to pay your council rent or Council Tax is important and people should do so. The welfare system has changed in response to Covid-19 with some new supports available. We would encourage anyone concerned about their finances to get in touch with one of our teams or the many organisations that are available to help you for free and confidential support.”

The leaflet will be distributed through organisations such as East Lothian Foodbank and through local Connected Communities teams. It is available to download online on the Council’s website.

MS wellbeing portal launched

A new wellbeing hub to keep people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) connected during the coronavirus pandemic has received backing of £48,708 from the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund.

Ahead of World MS Day (Saturday 30 May), MS Society Scotland is formally launching its suite of hundreds of free online and telephone sessions for people affected by the condition to access.

This includes access to one-to-one calls, counselling, financial wellbeing and physio support as well as many other activities designed to ensure people’s physical and mental health is maintained during the pandemic.

More than 15,000 people live with MS in Scotland and the wide range of meetings, webinars and calls delivered through the wellbeing hub will reach hundreds of these people.

Morna Simpkins, director of MS Scotland, said:

“We are delighted to have received funding to ensure that we can extend vital services we are providing people with MS can continue at this difficult time.

“Our research shows that our community are up to 12 times more likely to experience loneliness than on average – with three in five having felt extremely lonely as a result of their MS – so at a time when people are more isolated than ever it is key that there are services like this in place to support people.

“We have designed a range of sessions to support people’s emotional and physical health as well as a weekly schedule of activities and webinars to access. We know this is more important than ever, with many in our community shielding and people currently unable access their usual services due to the pandemic.

“If anyone is feeling isolated or you would like more support to maintain your wellbeing please do contact us and sign-up to what’s on offer.”

The hub aims to improve emotional wellbeing by reducing levels of anxiety, stress, isolation and loneliness as well as physical wellbeing with increased physical activity levels, improved strength, stamina, balance, mobility and reduced fatigue.

Physical activities like yoga, pilates and seated exercise will be available as live tasters with pre-recorded online exercise sessions also available online. People will also be able to access one-to-one physio appointments – something which has been an issue for some people as additional stress has been placed on the NHS.

In total, 470 online meetings, webinars and sessions will be offered to 350 people living with MS.

To improve mental health, counselling sessions are available as well as calls with the MS Society team to help people find more information or other organisations that can support them.

MS Society Scotland will also hold a weekly schedule consisting of wellbeing webinars on mindfulness, relaxation, and tapping therapies in addition to virtual socials led by peer volunteers and craft and skills webinars. These webinars on subjects like creative writing, book binding and singing will be delivered by volunteers from the MS community.

To find out more and to talk to someone about how to access the services that make up the hub email WellbeingScotland@mssociety.org.uk or phone 0131 335 4081.

For the latest information on how people with MS are affected by Covid-19 visit the MS Society Website.