My job is to co-ordinate DISC’s new support service for adult family members affected by a relative’s drug or alcohol problem. I line manage our Carer Practitioner, Gail, carry a small caseload and facilitate weekly service user groups, to better understand their needs and wishes, in order to develop interventions and resources that will best support carers of substance misusers in Sunderland.

I love my job

I love my job because it provides the opportunity to offer much needed help to people in crisis, who are often forgotten. Supporting someone in the throws of drug or alcohol dependency can take a huge toll on the carer’s emotional and mental health. Time taken up with worry and practical help can place strain on a carer’s close relationships, causing them to become cut off from friends and family. While the stigma associated with substance misuse can cause further isolation.  Employment and family finances can be greatly affected. Sometimes grandparents, on top of all this worry, take on full time parental roles for their grandchildren, while their peers are enjoying retirement. Lives can be turned upside down, with the magnitude of stress even resulting in physical health problems for the carer.

People have come to Caring Changes in a state of utter confusion and despair, not knowing what to do for the best, sometimes having been blamed and labelled ‘enablers’ in their never ending efforts to protect their loved ones. I come to work everyday with a sense of urgency. Support for carers is so important and complex. We offer; help to address the harms already caused in their lives, advice and guidance to avoid behaviours that may enable continued substance misuse and learn ways to support longer lasting recovery.

I would whole heartedly recommend working for DISC. I returned to employment within the organisation after having worked for a number of different charities and statutory services. I value DISC’s forward thinking and innovative work culture and have felt supported to thrive and develop in every role I have undertaken.

Caring Changes is important to DISC because it is the organisation’s first Carers Support Service for Adults. We are developing and shaping the service in line with national drug policy and Adfam’s research recommendations and guidance for best practice, together with the voices of the Sunderland Carers we work with.

Caring Changes aims to reduce the hidden harms caused by substance misuse, while tackling the associated stigma that causes exclusion and isolation. Every intervention is to improve the wellbeing of service users, those they care for and the whole family.