THE “precious” breaks that carers take from their caring roles have been captured on camera and will be unveiled at a North East exhibition next week.
The exhibition called ‘Time Well Earned’ will be displayed at the University of Sunderland’s Showcase Gallery in the Priestman Building, City Campus, Sunderland, between Tuesday 19 March and Friday 12 April 2013 (Gallery open 9am - 5pm).
The University has joined forces with the Sunderland Carers' Centre to raise the profile of unpaid carers – people who look after family members or friends who have a long-term illness, a disability or who are elderly and frail. Many carers juggle care with employment; the level of care they give can exceed a full-time job and for some it can be a 24/7 role.
The photographs show carers taking well deserved breaks from their caring roles and the idea for the project came from Daniel Dale, who is studying a photography degree at Cleveland College of Art and Design.
Daniel, pictured below, first approached Sunderland Carers' Centre to sound out his ideas and to put him in contact with carers who now feature in the exhibition.
The 21-year-old, from Sunderland, said: “My initial idea was to document the hobbies and interests of carers as a distinct group of people.
“I only had a vague idea about what carers do, but as soon as I started meeting them I was struck by the hard work, time and dedication they give to looking after others. It became obvious their time out from caring to enjoy their hobbies and interests was so precious to them all.”
He added: “Setting up the appointments to photograph the carers really brought home the reality of their caring roles to me, the way they had to fit our meetings around the needs and appointments of the people they look after.
“I have never been in a caring position myself and I couldn’t comprehend the demands on carers’ time until I started the project. When I had to think of the name for the exhibition 'Time Well Earned' seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I hope the exhibition inspires other carers to start thinking about taking a break or even recognise that they have a caring role in the first place.”
The University has enjoyed a working relationship with Sunderland Carers’ Centre for the last two decades.
Wendy Ingram, Senior Lecturer on the Social Work degree programme, works closely with the centre by involving carers in the social work curriculum.
She explained: “Once qualified, our student social workers will be coming into contact with carers. Who better to explain the reality of being an informal carer than carers themselves? Carers come from all walks of life; many don’t see themselves as ‘carers’ at all and wouldn’t necessarily be aware of the support that could be available to help them.”
She added: “Hosting the exhibition here is a welcome opportunity to raise awareness about caring more widely and within the university so that staff and students, who may themselves be carers, can find out more about the support available to them.”
Louise Phillipson, Head of Health, Safety and Environment in Human Resources at the University of Sunderland explains why all faculties of the University should support the exhibition and get involved.
“The University recognises that one of its greatest assets is its workforce and understands that throughout their career, colleagues may have carer responsibilities, both in the short term and for longer periods,” she said.
“To assist colleagues during what can often be a difficult period, the University is able to offer a number of flexible working opportunities, some temporary and others permanent, to enable colleagues to meet their carer responsibilities while remaining in employment and achieving a work-life balance to meet individual needs.”
For more information about support for carers at the University, contact 0191 515 2055.
The exhibition will be opened by Professor Julie Mennell, University of Sunderland Deputy Vice-Chancellor.