The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) makes clear a need to tackle health inequalities1, prevent illness and meet unmet need for people and communities who have been left behind. There is a clear commitment within The LTP to identify and support carers from vulnerable communities.

We know that some carers do not feel confident accessing support from NHS services, which means that they may experience poorer physical and emotional well-being. There is clear evidence from sources such as the GP patient survey and the State of Caring survey that carers face inequity as a result of their caring role – suggesting they are twice as likely to experience poor health compared to their non-carer peers. This is often contributed to by a lack of appropriate, accessible and culturally relevant information or support, finance concerns, stress and social isolation.

Since the publication of the LTP much has changed. We know that COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on communities most likely to suffer from health inequalities, and that as a result of COVID-19, carers have provided on average an additional ten hours of care a week.

NHS E/I are launching Mind the Gap, a programme which aims to help Integrated Care Systems to identify and support carers from vulnerable communities through co-production and carer-led innovation. As such, in 2020/21 NHS E/I is offering up to £10,000 per project aimed at scoping how to best identify and support carers from vulnerable communities, subject to successful bidding.

NHS E/I carers team are looking to secure additional funds for 2021/22 to implement recommendations, subject to successful bidding.

Who are the communities we should work with?

Carers from these Equality Act 2010 protected groups have been identified as vulnerable for the purpose of these projects:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation.

In addition, carers from groups below are also included:

  • Alcohol and substance abuse addicts
  • Armed Forces families
  • Migrants such as refugees and asylum seekers.

What are the aims of the projects?

2020/21 will be a scoping exercise. Aims will be to:

  • Understand how we can help carers from vulnerable communities identify and what matters most to them
  • Understand what would ensure more carers from vulnerable communities’ access support so that they maintain their own wellbeing
  • Co-design recommendations that will increase identification and improve support of carers for implementation, which are sustainable, scalable and spreadable *
  • Evaluate what we do and share what works, so that others can learn.

2021/22 will be used to implement the learnings, findings and recommendations that would have come out of the 2020/21 scoping projects.

* NB: NHS E/I carers team are looking to secure additional funds for 2021/22 to implement recommendations, subject to successful bidding.

What are the other requirements?

To receive support ICS localities are expected to demonstrate the following:

  • Evidence of local carers engagement
  • Involvement of local carer organisations
  • Inclusion of voluntary and third sector organisations
  • Evidence of co-production with carers in co-designing recommendations
  • An understanding of the need to make reasonable adjustments
  • Willingness to undertake a new programme of work, or enhance an existing offer, based on local assets
  • Commitment to buddying with others as assigned.

How will we work together?

The work will require a collaborative effort between NHS E/I and project partners. Project partners must be prepared to work in line with the proposed reporting and sharing of learning arrangements, including:

  • Attending an introductory online meeting on the 7th of September 2020 See webinar slides also See Q&A notes
  • Submitting 2x progress reports using template provided and taking part in monthly catch up calls with Regional NHS E/I Carers Leads
  • Submitting a final report using template provided 8th of March 2021
  • Measuring impact with support of external evaluators, including capturing Case Studies from carers and provider organisations5
  • Willingness to participate in external evaluation
  • Participating in three Nationally hosted events
  • Commitment to working collaboratively to undertake robust evaluation, measuring what matters most, sharing lessons learned and good practice.

Bid template

For your project to be considered for support, please complete one template per project you wish to bid for. The questions will provide us with details about your project and associated costings that we will need in order to gain internal approvals, and ensure you are set up as a supplier.

Please read all the information included in this pack before submitting your bid to

For a project to be approved it must comply with the following:

  1. Funding will be for no more than £10,000 – you can choose to ‘top this up’ locally in order to deliver more effective outcomes
  2. All elements of the project must be completed in full by end of March 2021;
  3. Requirements set out above.


Please note that all payments will be made to successful bidders in two parts:

  • 80% in November 2020
  • 20% on receipt of the approved final report in March 2021.

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