This is What Makes Us

This Summer, Tokyo (Japan) will be hosting the 2020 Olympics.  Athletes from around the world are currently preparing and training to be the best they can be.    Team GB are no different, and their motto of “this is what makes us” hints at the dedication and commitment the sports men and women give to their training regimes.  Intense training regimes at higher altitudes has encouraged the GB rowing team to develop greater strength and stamina.  The training plan is so intense, the athletes need 8,000 calories a day and breakfast includes SIX poached eggs, EIGHT pieces of toast, porridge and cereal.  The athletes’ training has also included developing psychological strength, to visualise success and to not allow past disappointments and failures hold them back.  Rest days are factored into the regimes to give the body chance to recover.

Unpaid Carers sometimes express that supporting a family member of a friend in need of care feels like a marathon at times.  The physical demands of supporting someone else in their tasks of daily living: bathing, dressing, shopping, cooking and cleaning requires stamina.  The psychological demands of caring also can take their toll.  Caring for a loved one who is sick, or in need of support is challenging and can leave carers feeling alone and isolated.  Many of the Adult Carers supported by Blackpool Carers Centre juggle caring for a loved one with working, caring for children and/or managing their own health conditions.  Like the Olympians, physical strength, psychological stamina and rest matter to unpaid carers.  Unlike the Olympians, medals are rarely awarded for what is sometimes a Herculean task in caring for another. 

Carers Centres across the country provide much needed support, both practical and emotional, to these unpaid carers.  Opportunities for rest and relaxation are also offered by Carers Centres to offer chance for carers to recharge their batteries. This can take the form of trips, well being courses or activity groups designed to encourage connection and creativity.  As a Support Worker, in working alongside unpaid carers, I have come to learn a great deal about the qualities and values that so many unpaid carers exhibit:  commitment, resilience, inventiveness and a willingness to learn from experience.  I have seen first-hand how, well-targeted support makes the world of difference to unpaid carers.  Such support begins with a recognition of the strengths unpaid carers already tap into each day.  Encouraging carers to identify their own goals, visualise their own hopes, and also manage their disappointments and frustrations is critical in giving unpaid carers the support they deserve.  Just like Team GB, with the right level of support and encouragement, unpaid carers can thrive. 

So the motto of team GB: “This is what makes us” speaks also to unpaid carers and Carers Centres across our nation.  Recognising strengths, and providing opportunities and a supportive environment for growth and development is what makes us a nation in which unpaid carers, and, as a result, those they care for, are winners. 


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