'It was wonderful to physically stand together in solidarity' — West Sussex carers honoured with charity event

More than 150 carers and health professionals were invited to the One Big Day event at Fontwell Park to celebrate and honour their work.

Carers taking part in the activities on offer during the One Big Day event.
Carers taking part in the activities on offer during the One Big Day event.

The event, which was held on April 29, was led by local charity Carers Support West Sussex, West Sussex County Council, and local NHS.

Developed by carers for carers, the event focussed on them being seen, heard, included, and supported in a world where finances are a challenge and systems and services are stretched to the max.

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Throughout the day, carers heard stories and personal experiences from those in the same situation.

The event began with a Q&A session between Carers Support West Sussex CEO Sonia Mangan and Kate Mosse OBE, novelist and carer. Kate talked about her personal experience of being a carer, the impact of the pandemic, and shared some anecdotes that everyone in the room could relate to - including when her Granny Rosie appeared on TV.

The event had spots where carers could benefit from some much-needed ‘me time’, including the ‘Wellbeing Zone’ which offered reiki, satin hand moisturising, reflexology and mini-gel manicure, and an introduction to mindfulness. In the ‘Activity Zone’, carers painted mini terracotta plant pots, and the ‘Young Carer Zone’ saw under 18-year-olds enjoying dance and film-making workshops.

Sonia said: “I am always humbled by the breadth of carers' experiences and their willingness to share what works and what doesn’t with decision makers and each other.

“The day was full of honesty which at times made us sad but also full of hope and celebration at being together again.

"We always learn from each other and make a difference, but it was wonderful to physically stand together in solidarity.”

Mark Greening, carers lead commissioner from West Sussex County Council, said: “At the event I did have a chance to meet a number of carers and they were all full of praise, not only for a wonderful day but also for all the opportunities to reconnect with other carers again.

“Now there is a lot of work ahead to further the aims of the West Sussex Joint Commitment to Carers. To be a county which fully recognises, values, and supports the role carers, of all ages, play.”

For more information about Carers Support West Sussex and the work it does to support the 30,000 carers registered, visit: www.carerssupport.org.uk