Carers in Rochdale borough are set to benefit from the launch of an innovative concession card that will give them access to a range of discounts from retailers and service providers - a first for the North West.
The Carer’s Reward Card, which is being spearheaded by NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (HMR CCG) and Rochdale Borough Council’s (RBC) Carers’ Resource. It is being launched on Saturday, 15 August, at a special Carers’ Day event run by Littleborough Group Practice’s Patient Participation Group (PPG) on behalf of all of the practices in the town, in the Coach House, in Lodge Street, from 10 am to 12 noon.
The Carer's RewardCard is free-of-charge and the scheme is part of an on-going effort to provide greater support to carers. There are 2,500 people registered with the Carers' Resource Centre, in Oldham Road, Rochdale, all of whom are eligible to receive a Carer's RewardCard, however, it is estimated that there may be as many as 24,000 carers living in the borough. The event will be the first combined GP surgery-led event for carers in the borough, which was organised by volunteers, and will help educate and inform people about services and encourage those who might not think of themselves as carers to come forward to register themselves as such with their GP. Anyone who thinks they may be a carer should visit their GP for help and advice.
Attending on the day will be 17 support services, including Age UK, Mind, Breathe Easy and Healthwatch. Also in attendance will be Mayor and Mayoress of Rochdale, Councillor Surinder Biant and Councillor Cecile Biant, who will enjoy a performance by members of the Carers' Choir. Everyone who attends will also receive a free raffle ticket with the chance to win an assortment of prizes, including two Greater Manchester monthly bus passes.
Businesses in the borough are also being encouraged to lend their support to the Carer's Reward Card scheme by providing their own range of discounts to carers and it's currently free to register. One business that has already pledged its support is Rosso Bus, which, as well as offering a Greater Manchester Daysaver for £3 instead of the usual £4 on production of the card - a 25% discount, has also renamed a vehicle, the Rochdale Carers’ bus, which has information and health messages for carers displayed inside. The bus will also be used by the Carers’ Resource to transport members to special events across the borough.
Chris Duffy, Clinical Chair of NHSHMR said: "Carers are unsung heroes and play such an important role within our society, often making great personal sacrifices to support family members, friends and loved ones in the most challenging of circumstances.
"We are committed to helping carers in their day-to-day lives. Carers do so much and we wanted to give something back and say a big thank you by helping to ease their financial burden when looking to enjoy some time out. By working together with businesses in the borough I hope we can achieve the best possible deals for carers."
Councillor Iftikhar Ahmed, Cabinet Member for Adult Care at RBC, said: “We’re really pleased to be launching this unique new scheme. It’s a great way of thanking carers, who are estimated to save the taxpayer £119bn a year, while supporting local businesses at the same time. I’d encourage all carers, whether they’re registered at the resource or not, to get in touch and claim their card.”
Kelly Vines, Practice Manager at Littleborough Group Practice, said: “We identified that carers needed some support in Littleborough and our PPG wanted to do something for them. A big thank you to everyone involved.”
Acerplan founder Michael Fern said: “It is great to see the card benefitting such a lot of people. We hope to continue growing it as further local businesses sign up.”