According to Carers UK, the number of carers grew exponentially during the pandemic, reaching more than 13 million. The helping hand from the Freemasons is supporting them with essential items, life skills, counselling, crisis support, activities and breaks.
Approximately 20,000 unpaid carers are receiving access to crucial support online, funded by the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body of the Freemasons.
The UGLE is also working to protect young carers, who are under increasing pressure as they support family members during lockdown.
In particular, the Freemasons project is providing 870 young carers with respite through activities and breaks, while 760 young carers are being provided with essential items and life skills. Elsewhere, almost 100 schools are receiving assistance to identify hidden young carers and provide support.
In total, more than 1,800 young carers are receiving advice, support and information.
In addition to their support for young carers, the Freemasons are providing funding for crisis support, advice and information to almost 3,000 adult carers. Meanwhile, the project is also assisting 1,050 parent carers with advice and support.
In Bedfordshire for example, the donation will help up to 20,000 unpaid carers to access online support, information and guidance with ease, freeing up staff to help those who are most in need. And in Essex, the donation will benefit 4,000 carers with a new minibus, providing transport to and from activities and day centres, removing barriers to participation.
Meanwhile in Buckinghamshire, almost 2,000 young carers will be supported at school, to improve their wellbeing and reduce stress and isolation. The donation will fund the salaries and project costs of three support staff to work with schools in identifying and supporting young carers. The aim of the project is to find young people with previously ‘hidden’ caring responsibilities and raise awareness of their burden.
Elsewhere, in Cumberland and Westmorland, Freemasons’ donations are supporting the Eden Carers project with mobile phones and laptops for its staff, enabling them to continue to support more than 800 unpaid carers of all ages flexibly and remotely, complying with Covid-19 restrictions.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, said: ‘These have been very difficult times for everyone and especially for carers. With the donations, we are helping with training, counselling, support, mental and physical health, as well as activities to reduce stress.
‘We want to recognise the enormous contribution carers make to families and communities throughout the UK. They do their best because they want to make a difference and care deeply for their family members.’