Across the UK there are at least 8 million people who are looking after a member of their family or a friend. You will probably know someone doing this - they probably don't think of themselves as a 'carer', they just say "I'm looking after my mum (or partner/brother/daughter/neighbour)".
We don't talk about carers enough, but it's a big deal - and not just because it's something that affects a lot of people. Caring for somebody is tough - put aside all the practical difficulties and the time pressures - it's an emotional rollercoaster.
At Mobilise we're passionate about doing something to help. Particularly, we want to make it easier for people to find and share the things that help them as a carer. This might be a tip on persuading a reluctant parent to drink more water, a remote control light switch or a carefully-deployed joke to take the edge off the emotional pain.
This is the kind of challenge where technology can make a big difference. So we're building a platform that will use machine learning to capture the collected wisdom and experience of millions of carers. That knowledge can then be presented to newer carers in the form of information, advice and support.
At the time of writing (September 2019), we're just starting out on that journey, so here's a few thoughts on how we're finding our way:
1. Putting carers in the driving seat
We know that the most important people in all of this are the carers who will ultimately be using our services. If it doesn't work for them, it doesn't work for anybody.
We also know that carers have a huge wealth of expertise and insight - built up over years of experience - about the best way to look after somebody you love, how to cope with emotional challenges, and how to navigate all the forms, processes and complexities of the social care system.
So that's why we're making sure that carers are in the driving seat.
2. Following the evidence
The UK is fortunate to have some of the best universities and researchers undertaking cutting edge research into social care, and specifically the best ways to support informal carers. That's why we're working with academics across the country to learn from their work, and we've produced our own in-house research.
'Reaching Out - A review of digital opportunities to support the mental health of carers' is a report into the great work of carers centres in the Carers Trust network - particularly looking at how they support the mental health of carers. We're now looking at how their techniques can be used in an online setting to extend that support to new groups of carers.
3. Working with and learning from others
There's so much great work going on, and we're keen to learn from others who are already supporting carers. That's why our partnerships with Camden Carers Centre and Carers Trust as well as many others have been so important to us.
So, whether you have some family experience of caring, whether you're already working to support carers, or whether you just think this is a problem that's worth solving...