Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Care will announce a Carers Innovation Fund today to support informal carers. The new Government seed-funding will see £5m invested in creative and cost-effective 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 the Carers Innovation Fund would invest in include:
- 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 the Fund's launch, 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 £5m 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.'
Projects considered for the Carers Innovation Fund 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 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. Voluntary sector, charities, SMEs and commercial organisations can all bid for seed-funding from the Carers Innovation Fund 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.
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.
'Many more of us are taking on unpaid caring responsibilities for family and friends, often alongside paid work or raising children. We are also seeing the amount and complexity of care increasing.
'As we live and work longer, with technology transforming so many aspects of our lives, it’s time to innovate to support the way families are living today.'
Caroline Dinenage 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. Initially worth half a million pounds, ministers subsequently increased the available funding to £5m.