Julie Izzard works as a Family Care Adviser at Norfolk Family Carers but is also a carer herself – or more precisely a ‘sandwich carer’ (someone who looks after children and parents).

Julie’s dad has MS and her step mum has dementia so Julie knows all too well the rewards and challenges of caring, as well as what can be done to make life easier.

“I think it really helps that I am also a carer outside of my role at Norfolk Family Carers. I know the pressures family carers are under and the concerns they have – but through my job, I also know how to navigate health and social care, understand a carer’s legal rights and also the importance of a carer’s own wellbeing.”

Last autumn, Norfolk Family Carers lost its council funding. The charity has had to think long and hard about what it can offer above services provided by the council. However the current squeeze on social care means there appears to be real need for a series of paid-for support services which can be delivered quickly and tailored to an individual’s needs. Julie says that demand is growing:

“We’ve been able to help many people who have found themselves, for whatever reason, needing flexible support quickly. Recently I went to the home of an 87-year-old carer in Caister who needed help to fill out a 45-page attendance allowance form .*

The carer wasn’t able to complete the form himself and was so grateful for the quick service we could offer which meant the benefit funds arrived promptly.

We’ve also heard from several people up and down the country who care for an older relative in Norfolk after we launched our Caring at a Distance programme. It’s a situation lots of people find themselves in – no longer living near a relative who is becoming increasingly frail.”

Norfolk Family Carers is also reaching out to local employers in a bid to support working carers. Julie says she knows all too well the difference it can make if an employer understands what it means to be a carer:

“Only last week I had to leave work as my dad was rushed to hospital. Norfolk Family Carers by its nature is supportive to me as a carer and understands the disruption it can cause to my working life. However, not everyone is as fortunate and we’d like to change that.”

All profits from the fee-based services are reinvested into charitable work.

*Attendance Allowance is a benefit for those aged 65 and over who have a severe disability and need help with personal care.