CAMPAIGNS: Guide aims to assist carers in Lewisham - Public Sector

Client: Lewisham Council PR Team: In-house Campaign: Do You Care? Timescale: May - July 2003 Budget: within in-house budget

Almost 20,000 people in Lewisham look after friends or family members who are frail, ill or disabled. But the local council believed only a fraction of that number knew about the services and support available to unpaid carers. To let them know help was at hand, Lewisham Council teamed up with community groups and health partners.

Objectives

To make unpaid carers aware of the services and support available to them and promote the new guide to carers' services. To attract at least 120 carers and health professionals to the launch of the council's Carers' Strategy on 12 June, where community support groups would be represented, despite coinciding with National Carers' Week.

Strategy and Plan

The council had to rely solely on PR to get its message across, as the budget was minimal. Eight community groups, including Contact a Family, Crossroads and Lewisham Mencap, were targeted and encouraged to post the message of the Carers' Strategy, as well as make announcements at community meetings. Specific articles were drafted for inclusion in community newsletters.

Press releases were sent to local newspapers, and interviews with council members arranged at local radio stations. The council PR team suggested articles were sent to health workers' staff newsletters, as this group is in frequent contact with carers.

Measurement and Evaluation

In the run-up to the 12 June event, broadcast media coverage came from local station Fusion Radio, while print coverage was obtained in the South London Press, and Lewisham News Shopper.

All community groups contacted helped raise awareness of the event and the guide in some way. SIGNAL, for example, a support group for parents of autistic children, announced the event at its AGM and included a story on the guide in its newsletter.

Four newsletters provided coverage: The Works, a newsletter for Lewisham's social workers, plus newsletters for staff at Lewisham Hospital, Lewisham Primary Care Trust, and South London and Maudsley NHS Trust.

Results

There was double the amount of interest in the 12 June event than expected, which attracted 300 carers and health professionals. More than 20,000 of the 25,000 new guides to carers' services that were printed were distributed at the event and across communities.

Community groups Carers Lewisham, Contact a Family, SIGNAL and the Ravensbourne Project have all reported an increase of enquiries from carers since the campaign, although no actual figures were available.

Lewisham News Shopper chief reporter Adrian Kwintner said the launch of the Carers' Strategy proved to be a good local news story. 'Furthermore, the council provided us with good statistics about carers in the borough and some examples of what carers do and the help they get,' he said.

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