The government has approved £4.5 million in new funding for innovative projects that support unpaid carers, the Minister of Care Caroline Dinenage will announce today.
Community organisations, small businesses and tech companies that come up with creative and cost-effective ways to improve the wellbeing of carers of family and friends will benefit from the Carers Innovation Fund.
The Minister 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 £5 million.
Speaking ahead of a Carers’ Centre Tower Hamlets event where the Fund will be launched, 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 well-being and ensure they can enjoy full lives.
“This £5 million 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.”
Examples of the kind of innovative projects the fund would invest in include technology platforms which help carers take a break from their caring responsibilities and support groups like Carers Cafes or Men’s Sheds, which develop peer support groups and offer short courses to help reduce isolation.
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.
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.
Welcoming the launch, Helen Walker, CEO of Carers UK said: “There’s never been a more important time to develop and accelerate new ways to support unpaid carers.
“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.”
Since the Carers Action Plan was published, several government-funded projects have launched including a national Carer Passport developed with Carers UK and Carers Trust to improve recognition of carers and enable better access to services and community facilities; and an Employers for Carers carer-friendly employer benchmarking scheme to benefit carers in the workplace.
Click here for information on how to apply for funding.