Caroline Dinenage MP: The pioneering Carers Innovation Fund will improve the lives of carers
The Carers Innovation Fund will help scale the best examples of support so that even more carers have access to the kind of innovations that can improve - and even save - lives, says Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage MP.
Carers are at the very heart of our communities - any one of us, at any time, could suddenly find ourselves with responsibility for a family member or friend. Caring should never be a solitary role and with our ageing population society needs to come together to support carers now and in the future.
The Carers Innovation Fund will do just that, bringing together local community organisations, small businesses and tech companies with one mission: to improve the lives of carers.
This pioneering 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.
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.
There are over five million carers in England and their numbers are growing. Too often they experience poor health, isolation and stress as a result of their responsibilities, which in turn negatively affects their education or employment.
My own mother was a ‘sandwich carer’ who supported me with the birth of my first child as well as caring for my grandmother, who had dementia. I saw the emotional and physical toll it took on her.
Our health and care services have a vital role to play in providing support too, and through our NHS Long Term Plan we are working to better identify and support carers across England.
But it’s evident that sometimes there are organisations that can deliver beyond the scope of traditional services. For example I have met men in my constituency in Gosport who told me their lives have literally been saved by the Men’s Shed, a non-profit community initiative for men to connect with others locally.
That’s why my aim for the Fund is to attract applications from a range of sectors. 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.
I believe carers are a group that can really benefit from community initiatives of this kind. I also want to see technology harnessed for their benefit, to connect them to support or even support them to provide care.
The Fund will help scale the best examples of support so that even more carers have access to the kind of innovations that can improve - and even save - lives.
Caroline Dinenage is the Minister for Care and Conservative MP for Gosport.