CARER Support Wiltshire has launched an appeal to raise £25,000 to help provide support for people who care for loved ones in their own homes.

The Gazette is backing the work of the charity and hopes readers will become involved by holding fundraising events and making donations to the Community Connections appeal.

Among those who received support is Penny Simmons who spent eight years looking after her mum Audrey who was affected by dementia until her death a year ago.

Ms Simmons said: “I’d have done anything for my mum. She was my best friend and, although caring for her was difficult because her dementia changed her personality, I’d do it all again tomorrow.”

Ms Simmons, 52, is still coming to terms with her loss and what she describes as a very tough period caring for her mum and visiting her on a daily basis in a care home when looking after her on her own became too difficult.

She said: “A typical day would involve getting her breakfast, bathing her, making sure she’d eaten, helping her on the toilet and generally making sure she was OK.

"Once the evening came, she’d often be awake all night, so it really was a 24-hour job."

She was finding life difficult, so she got in touch with Carer Support Wiltshire who were able to provide much needed emotional support and help in a number of other ways.

She said: “They provided counselling for me at their centre in Semington and it was so useful to be able to talk to someone about my feelings. When you’re caring for someone or visiting them in a home, you feel so many things – guilt, anger, frustration, helplessness – and talking to a councillor really helped.

“The thing lots of people don’t realise about long term illness is that it doesn’t just affect one person, it affects the person that cares for them too.”

Carer Support Wiltshire also helped Penny by providing pampering sessions, because often people who care for a loved one forget to care for themselves.

One year after the death of her mum, Penny says there is still a big gap in her life, but with the help of Carer Support Wiltshire, things are slowly getting better.

She said: “Caring form my mum was a big chunk of my life and now she’s gone I feel numb. I’m glad I got in touch with Carer Support Wiltshire, though, they have really helped me.”