NEARLY £1.4 million in unclaimed benefits has been brought in for Wiveliscombe and the town’s community care workforce has expanded from just three to 35 since a homegrown care scheme was established five years ago.

Wiveliscombe responded to a crisis in care in 2018 by creating a ‘connector’ scheme signposting people who needed help to self-employed carers.

The carers, known as ‘micro-providers’, help local residents with a range of personal care activities such as help with staying clean, ensuring meals are provided and medication is taken, as well as providing company and conversation.

Wivey Cares was the brainchild of David Patterson, a retired social worker who founded the scheme as a way of providing a very local solution to the crisis in care.

Mr Patterson said: “Wivey is a rural town, and the conventional model of care at home just does not work here for this reason.

“We believed that there must be people who lived locally who could meet the need for care, which would support the work of Government agencies, reducing the cost of services and helping people live independently in their homes for longer.

Wivey Cares video

“So, just over five years ago we held public meetings and pitched the idea, and our proposals were enthusiastically received by the town.

“We have come a long way since those early days – not only have we helped local people become self-employed carers or volunteers, we have also helped people get their ideas off the ground, helping them to develop dementia groups and food and growing projects locally.

“As a result, we now have more than 35 carers who can access meaningful self-employment, live locally, and offer really personalised support.

“To date, we have managed and helped more than 300 people fill in forms and claim Attendance Allowance.

“This is financial support the Government offers which can help people with extra costs if they have a disability where they need somebody to help look after them.

“At any one time we believe we are supporting between 120 and 140 clients to stay in their own homes, keeping them close to friends and family.

“This has resulted in nearly £1.4 million of previously unclaimed benefits being received by Wivey residents, creating jobs, and stimulating our local economy.”

Somerset Council adult social care portfolio holder Cllr Heather Shearer said: “In Somerset, we are absolutely committed to giving people choice and control over the care they receive.

“Whether this is through a wide range of regulated care providers, or via local micro-providers and volunteers.

“We also offer choice and flexibility in the way people pay for their care, whether this is by funded care, Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payments, or direct payments.

“The Wivey Cares scheme is a great example of the power of our communities, and shows that grassroots organisations can really make a difference and solve complex problems.

“In the case of Wivey Cares, by creating jobs, reducing the need for travel, and providing support to local people needing care ranging from personal care to practical care and companionship.”

Anybody who is interested in setting up their own local care scheme can contact [email protected] for more information.