A woman who became a devoted carer for her friend when she was battling cancer is raising awareness of a vital support scheme for carers in County Durham and Darlington.
In honour of Carers Week 2023, which runs from Monday 5 to Sunday 11 June, beauty salon owner Vikki Bramley is reaching out to encourage unpaid carers to sign up to the Durham County Carers Support (DCCS) scheme and access the Carer Friendly Discount Card.
The discount scheme has been developed in partnership with Durham County Council, Darlington Borough Council and County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, and rewards carers for the support they provide to their friends, family, or neighbours, by reducing some of the financial pressures that carers experience.
When Vikki’s childhood friend Joanne was diagnosed with breast cancer, she stepped in to support her.
Often taking time off work to take her to appointments and waiting whilst she went through gruelling treatment.
Whilst she would do it all over again in a heartbeat, Vikki says that sometimes she felt that she had no one to talk to. That was until she signed up to DCCS where she received vital support through the service.
Vikki said: “I was a carer for a time for a very close friend and I understand the demands that caring duties can have on both your time and your finances.
“There were often times when I had to reduce my working hours or drive to hospital with my friend when I was caring for her. This meant I missed out on clients and obviously added to the cost of petrol.
“But I just did it for my friend without question. I jumped at the chance to help unpaid carers by offering a discount in my salon. Carers work harder than anyone and they deserve it!”.
Vikki didn’t hesitate to sign up her Shildon based salon, Bella Vita, to offer discounted treatments and products to those that need it.
She is also now training to be a counsellor and is on placement with the service. One day she hopes to volunteer so she can give back to the carer community.
There are lots of businesses that have signed up to the scheme to offer their services at a discounted price, including venues like Beamish Museum and Hall Hill Farm which both offer free entry for carers.
During Carer’s Week, the NHS Melissa Bus will be visiting various locations across County Durham to provide information, advice, and support. There will be opportunities to speak with DCCS, the Alzheimer’s Society and Durham County Council.
The Melissa Bus will be visiting:
• Galgate Car Park, Barnard Castle, on Monday 5 June, 10am to 3pm
• Bishop Auckland College, Tuesday 6 June, 10am to 4pm
• Byron Place Shopping Centre, Seaham, Wednesday 7 June, 10am to 3pm
• Tesco Extra, Consett, Friday 9 June, 10am to 1pm
The Bridge Young Carers Service will also be joining at Bishop Auckland College and Byron Place Shopping Centre, in Seaham, to provide information to young carers.
For more information including how to sign up to the scheme, visit dccarers.org or call 0300 005 1213.