Vital tech support is being delivered to dozens of young carers in the borough to ease the extra burden and challenges they face during lockdown. Laptops and dongles are on the way to 62 young carers in partnership with Wigan and Leigh Carers Centre with the first laptops already in the hands of those in need.
The charity has been forced to suspend the majority of face-to-face groups and activities in an effort to minimise the risk of spreading the virus so staff and volunteers have needed to utilise online alternatives to stay in touch.
Angela Allison, Wigan and Leigh Carers Centre chief officer, said: “You might think it’s just a laptop, but it means so much more. Having access to tech equipment is hugely important, it’s a lifeline to education, social interactions and even just a distraction to stresses and strains they might be facing.
“Being a carer during lockdown presents extra challenges and we find they face increased risk of loneliness and isolation so any support we can provide goes a long way. To see how happy everyone has been when they’ve received equipment makes it all worthwhile. It will make such a difference during the weeks and months ahead.”
Funding for the equipment was secured by Wigan Council as part of an emergency assistance grant for essential supplies during lockdown. Once the funding was allocated, teams worked identifying what was needed and as part of the grant equipment was purchased to support young carers so they could stay connected with family and friends and for their education.
Councillor Keith Cunliffe, Wigan Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for adult and social care, said: “Through lockdown young carers have missed out on group meetings and many opportunities for social interaction with others who are in the same position as themselves. These meetings are so important so they can share experiences with people they can relate to so providing equipment which keeps them connected is hugely important at a time when they may feel anxious.
“I would like to thank Wigan and Leigh Carers Centre who have been fantastic to work with in helping to ensure all the equipment was distributed.”
There is wider support available to unpaid carers in the borough and Wigan Council is committed to recognising the difference carers make. A support plan and personal budget, getting short term breaks, education and training opportunities, support with benefit applications and counselling are all available to carers.
Wigan and Leigh Carers Centre is also ready to help Wigan’s young and adult carers. The charity can be reached on 01942 705959 for advice or information.