Across the UK there are at least 13.5 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'. Instead, they say
"I'm looking after my mum (or partner/brother/daughter/neighbour)".
We don't talk about unpaid carers enough.
But it's a big deal. 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 also 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 will help them look after someone. This might be a top tip for encouraging a reluctant partner to drink more water, hacks to common carer problems 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've built a platform that uses machine learning to capture the collected wisdom and experience of millions of carers. That knowledge can be used to reach people who have not yet identified as carers, in the form of information, advice and support.
In September 2019, we were just starting out on that journey. So here are a few thoughts on how we found our way.
1. Putting unpaid carers in the driving seat
We know that the most important people in all of this are the carers. They are the ones who ultimately use 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. They have 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. Specifically, the best ways to support unpaid 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.
Carers' experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic have shown that well-designed online services can open up support to new groups of carers. Helping them to thrive in their caring role.
Our 'Lessons from Lockdown' report summarises relevant existing evidence about providing online support for carers - both from the social care sector and from a wider ‘digital transformation’ background.
And introduces new evidence from the experience of carers leads and support providers through the pandemic.
3. Working with and learning from others
At Mobilise, we're keen to learn from others who are already supporting carers. That's why we are working with over 20 Local Authorities, NHS Trusts and Local Carer Support Organisations across the UK to bring accessible, light-touch carer support to those looking after loved ones.
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...
We're going on care hunt...
We're going to catch a big one...
We'd love to have you with us.
If you are looking after someone with a disability, mental health illness or long-term condition, join our private Facebook group for unpaid carers. Where we have daily conversations and share top tips with one another.
And if you're interested in the work we do to support carers, feel free to get in touch with us.