An unpaid carer has spoken of her thanks to a service which has helped her cope during lockdown.

Saleha Bhayat, 47, and her two sisters have been caring for their parents throughout the pandemic with buying them shopping and taking them to medical appointments.

Saleha's dad, Ahmed Dadhiwala, 79, has got dementia so he and Saleha's mother, Hava Dadhiwala, 67, require daily care.

Saleha, who lives in the Audley area, said: "I have been caring for my parents forever - we have never stopped caring.

"It's just expected in Asian communities to look after them and care for them.

"Between me and my sisters have managed to take days off. We just take it in turns."

Before the pandemic, Saleha did not seek any assistance from local groups to help in caring for her parents but she has now discovered the Blackburn with Darwen Carers Service which she says has helped her tremendously.

She said: "They have been great help with caring while everyone was at home and stuck indoors.

"Just having a bit of time out and getting to talk with other carers on a Monday morning has been helpful."

She said that, because of her dad’s early dementia it has been hard through the pandemic.

Through the period, he lost his sister who died in India however because of having to isolate, he has been unable to pay his respects and Saleha said she believes he has not been able to properly grieve.

Despite all the difficulties she has faced, she is thankful that the service has been available so she can discuss the issues with other careers.

Activities co-ordinator from Blackburn with Darwen Carers Service, Kulsum Chisti said: “As a service we aim to meet the needs of all.

“The Asian carers group was set up in particular to engage carers who were not participating in activities.

“Quite a lot of groundwork was done to identify why, and it came apparent that a different approach was needed.

“Providing a space for them, at a time that was flexible to their needs, with one-to-one support to help carers engage. We provide activities which were culturally suitable and inclusive.”

“Through the pandemic, we constantly adapted what we could offer, from phone calls to self-care packs, zoom calls to keep the women carers communicating, which gave us the results we achieved and I’m pleased the group has developed skills to be become more resilient.”