The voices of carers very often go unheard. Even by themselves. So great is their focus, often their sole focus, on the care of someone close to them. A husband with Parkinson’s, a wife with epilepsy and bipolar, a daughter with Downs Syndrome, a son with heroin addiction and psychosis, a dad with dementia, a mum with multiple challenges like chronic arthritis, kidney cancer and the after-effects of a stroke.
It can be a 24-7, hyper-responsible life on the edge of the crisis, and so a few carers have the time or the energy or the will to relax, recharge and look after themselves. Least of all, to tell their story to the outside world, which may be oblivious to the everyday, quiet, domestic heroics taking place in our midst.
In Carers’ Week 2019, STEPPING OUT is launching two ground-breaking projects to let carers and the people they care for open the door on their lives and tell their own stories in pictures and words.
CARERS LIVES IN 100 OBJECTS – THE STEPPING OUT VIRTUAL MUSEUM is taking exhibits from all round the country – featuring objects that symbolise their life as a carer and why it means so much to them. Step into the online pages and you’ll find why a uniquely-decorated cup and plate has a vital place in the heart of Ann who looks after her son Leon. Or why the picture of a pair of men’s boots in the Sahara desert is such a powerful consolation to Kim following the death of her son, Kai, by suicide.
The first six treasures are now in the Museum and we’re inviting people who are carers and those they care for to nominate their own exhibits for the Museum until we reach 100. Then we hope to host events with the real objects on show and the carers on hand to tell their own stories either on film or in person. British Museum? Tate Modern? Turner Contemporary? We’re happy to talk to anyone.
THE STEPPING OUT HOT POTATO PODCAST invites carers to get together and talk about the issues, joys, challenges, fears, rages, laughs, love and pain that being a carer can entail. No subject is taboo. It is real carers talking about real life. You can find the recording of our first podcast on our website and future episodes will also include chats with people who are cared for – because their voices are just a significant in the caring community – and experts to shed light on particular issues.
We will be inviting listeners to send in their own subject for discussion and given that there are an estimated 7 million carers in the UK, according to figures from the Carers’ Trust, we can expect a powerfully-informative and varied set of themes.