Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visits Devon Carers, Exminster
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, President of Carers Trust, visited Devon Carers at Westbank Community Health and Care, Farm House Rise, Exminster on Monday 24th September to officially open the new Devon Carers Service.
Her Royal Highness met Westbank Chief Executive (outgoing) Mary Nisbett, Westbank Chief Executive (incoming) Matthew Byrne, Carers Trust Chief Executive Giles Myers and Devon County Council Chairman Caroline Chugg, who accompanied HRH throughout the visit.
The launch event celebrated the start in the evolution of Devon Carers, a countywide service for adults and young carers across Devon. Devon Carers provides information and advice to carers, helps them to find support in their local community. Devon Carers is led by carers, ensuring they have choice, control, and a voice as expert partners in care.
The launch of the newly configured service follows a five year award of a contract to lead agency Westbank Community Health and Care.
Matthew Byrne, Westbank Chief Executive, said “The new contract will enable Devon Carers to build its preventative services to enable carers to continue to care safely and independently and to increase the availability and range of peer support. I know from talking to carers over many years that learning and sharing the experiences of other carers can be an invaluable support to them”.
During the visit, Her Royal Highness met staff who deliver the service and adult and young carers who are supported by the service.
Siblings Josh 12, Lily 13 and Rachel 15, who care for their mum, shared their thoughts on meeting Her Royal Highness “It was very exciting meeting The Princess, but also a bit nerve wracking as I didn’t know what to say. She was easy to talk to and very friendly asking about our caring role and school”. Josh went on to say “I’ve never met royalty before, it was quite cool”.
Brana Thorn, Member of Devon Carers Governance Board, said “It was a great pleasure meeting Her Royal Highness; she took the time to talk to us all individually asking specific questions about our involvement with Devon Carers. I found her to be very insightful and responsive to the needs of carers”.
During the visit, Her Royal Highness had the opportunity to talk directly to young carers about their caring roles and the support they receive through Devon Carers. Skye, aged 12, one of the young carers, talked to Her Royal Highness about a graffiti art workshop she recently attended and was able show her the artwork she designed which formed part of an art installation at Westbank.
Isabel, aged 16, who cares for her parents, said “The Princess was very nice, she asked about my caring role and family and what I’d like to do in life”
Sophie, aged 11, who cares for her sister, said “The Princess understood about caring, she listened to how I care for my little sister who has autism. It was really good to talk to her about what I have to do at home so she could realise more about young carers”.
Before leaving, Her Royal Highness gave a speech in which she expressed her interest in hearing about some of the new areas of work Devon Carers are developing, especially new digital and online services, and targeting hard-to-reach groups of carers to improve access for example by carers living in isolated rural communities. The Princess went on to cut a cake and was presented with a posy by Luke, aged 12.
Mary Nisbett, Westbank Chief Executive, said “We are delighted that Her Royal Highness was able to join us to meet with adult and young carers, staff, volunteers, partners and commissioners. It was a wonderful opportunity for adult and young carers to share with The Princess their experience of being carers, examples of the support Devon Carers provides and discuss the challenges carers face and how they can be supported in the future”.
Photo: Matthew Byrne, Westbank Community Health and Care Chief Executive, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal and young carer Luke Barnett