Health June 12, 2019
New £5m fund to support innovation for unpaid carers

By News Feature - Accountable Care Journal

Carers for family and friends will benefit from new government seed-funding to develop innovative means of support, Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage has announced today.

The Carers Innovation Fund will invest £5 million in creative and cost-effective new ways to support unpaid carers, outside of mainstream health and care services. This will be used to improve support across the country and help build more carer-friendly communities.

Examples of the kind of innovative projects supported by the fund are:

  • Technology platforms which help carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities,
  • Support groups like Carers Cafes or Men’s Sheds which develop peer support groups and offer short courses to help reduce isolation.

Speaking ahead of a Carers’ Centre Tower Hamlets event where the Fund will be launched, Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage said: "Informal care is a fundamental part of our health and care system, which would not be sustainable without the incredible contribution of carers across the country. But we cannot take them for granted and must do more to protect their wellbeing and ensure they can enjoy full lives.

"This £5 million investment will help build our understanding of the kinds of support that work for carers, outside of traditional healthcare services. From cafés that bring carers together to innovative forms of technology that help carers enjoy time off, I want to see a range of exciting projects boosted and their benefits unlocked. ”

Potential projects will be expected to demonstrate measurable impacts on:

  • Health and wellbeing,
  • Ability to manage work alongside caring responsibilities,
  • Ability to take a break and respite from their caring role,
  • Reducing loneliness and social isolation too often experienced by carers.

Applicants will need to demonstrate their idea is a fresh approach that is better than existing provision, will benefit the local community and can be expanded and replicated.

The aim is to attract applications from a range of sectors. The voluntary sector, charities, SMEs and commercial organisations can all bid for seed-funding to prove their concept and build the case for sustained funding from other sources. Carers and other experts will sit on the evaluation panel to ensure proposals are feasible.

The Minister first announced the fund last year as part of the Carers Action Plan, a cross-government programme of targeted work to support unpaid carers over the next two years.

Case studies: 

The Tribe Project - A project to directly address national care inequality and bring affordable sustainable care to everyone in the UK. Tribe seeks to map existing care provision in areas where care is hard to access but demand is high through a digital platform that allows people to easily access community support in their neighbourhoods, from local events, clubs and groups to local carers, volunteers and community helpers.

It works in collaboration with Skills for Care and has been co-developed with Shropshire, Dorset, Suffolk and Leicestershire Councils.

Carers Cafe scheme - A project to connect carers with others for peer support and to their local community resources in Bath and North East Somerset. Carers Cafe now has 12 pop-up cafes across the area reaching 200 carers. By 2020 they aim to have 20 cafes with 400 carers benefiting. The scheme was granted £100,000 from the Government’s Building Better Connections Fund to tackle loneliness, to expand their already successful project.

Welcoming the launch, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “There’s never been a more important time to develop and accelerate new ways to support unpaid carers."

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