Welcome to Carers UK’s online community

What is the Carers UK Online Forum?

The Carers UK Forum is a supportive online community of current and former unpaid family carers who understand the ups and downs of caring. Our community is here for you to connect with other carers, support each other and signpost each other to relevant information, advice and support.

Our community is open to all carers over the age of 18 and is moderated by Carers UK volunteers and staff.

To keep our online community a welcoming, supportive and safe place for carers and former carers, we ask that all members follow the guidelines below. Please remember that every time you use the community (including use of private messages) you are agreeing to our Community Guidelines, Membership Terms and Conditions and Privacy and Cookies Policy. You should therefore make sure that you have a good understanding of these documents.

Community Guidelines

In summary, we ask everyone to:
• Be respectful
• Be supportive
• Be sensitive to how others may be feeling
• Use the forum primarily to give and receive support
• Help to make the forum easy to use for other members

1. Be respectful

We want our online community to be welcoming and supportive and also a place where people can express themselves freely about their caring situations. We understand people will have different opinions, but please respect other people's right to disagree with you.

Please consider the tone of your posts - giving strong, judgmental opinions about another person's personal circumstances and choices can be upsetting to that individual and may put them off posting on the forum, especially if the person posting is new to the forum and has not been involved in an online community before. Try to base replies on the information given, rather than make assumptions about a person's circumstances.
Please avoid excessive SHOUTING. This involves using lots of CAPITAL LETTERS in posts.

2. Be supportive

Carers UK is here to provide information, advice and support to all carers, whatever their caring situation, age and background. We also believe that where possible, caring should be a choice. While many people decide to take on the role of looking after a loved one, we respect that this choice may not be the right one for others.
Please be supportive of all carers, whatever their caring situation and whatever stage they are on their caring journey.

3. Be sensitive to how others may be feeling

Remember that people using our online community may be going through a particularly challenging or difficult time. Please be sensitive to the fact that people may be feeling vulnerable, and consider how your message may be perceived by someone going through a difficult situation. If we think that a comment could be insensitive we may decide to remove it to protect people using the forum.

Occasionally you may come across another member of our online community who you are particularly concerned about. If you think a member of our online community, or someone they are looking after, is at risk of self-harm or suicide, please contact our staff team immediately at forum@carersuk.org or send a private message to an individual member of staff or volunteer moderator. It would also be helpful if you could encourage the person involved to contact Samaritans by phone at 116 123 or by email at jo@samaritans.org

4. Use the forum primarily to give and receive support

Our online community is here for you to connect with other carers, support each other and signpost each other to relevant information, advice and support. Staff members will occasionally post in the forum to ask if you would like to get involved in other aspects our work (e.g. volunteering or telling your caring story to the media) and there will also be opportunities to ask questions of the Chief Executive and other senior staff.

5. Help to make our online community easy to use for other members

Post in the right place

The forum is divided into sections so you should try and make your post in the one that is most relevant. If you're not sure where your post should go then put it in the ‘All about Caring’ section. The moderators and staff may move posts to other sections of the forum if they think it would be more helpful for other users.

Stick to the topic

Please try and keep to the thread's original intention. We do not want to stifle the creative flow of the conversation but if a new topic evolves it is good practice to start again in a new thread. Moderators and staff may lock topics that go off thread or move topics into new areas.

Posting images

Users are welcome to post images on the forum provided that: photos of anyone under 18 have the parent’s consent; photos of anyone over 18 have that person's consent; no photos are posted which are likely to cause offence or bring Carers UK into disrepute.

Private Messages

The content of private messages should remain private and should not be posted on the forum. Our Community Guidelines also apply to private messages and if you receive a private message that does not follow the guidelines please report it to a moderator or email the staff team at forum@carersuk.org. If you have an issue with another member’s post that you do not want to discuss in public on the forum, please contact a moderator or the staff team rather than the writer of the post.

Links to/from other websites

You are welcome to post links (URLs) to other websites on the forum if you think this would be helpful to other carers and former carers. When doing this please include a short summary and a link to the relevant web page. Please do not cut and paste large sections of content from other websites onto the forum. The posting of a URL on the forum does not imply any endorsement and Carers UK may remove URL's from posts if we feel they are not appropriate to the overall purpose and mission of the community.

Commercial advertising or plugging of products, websites etc. is not allowed on the forum and such posts will be removed.

Members are welcome to post links on other websites back to this forum. However, cutting and pasting large chunks of content from here onto other sites is not allowed, as it removes comments from their context and is a breach of copyright.

Duplicate posts

Please do not make the same post in different sections of the community. Duplicate posts will be removed.

Research and consultations

Because our community is primarily here to facilitate peer support, we do not allow third parties to post links to research or surveys. However, occasionally Carers UK may start a thread in relation to research we are conducting by ourselves or in partnership with another charity.

How do we moderate our online community?

Carers UK’s online community is moderated by a team of volunteer moderators and our staff team. We monitor all posts made on the forum and recognise that most interactions are between carers and former carers who are giving and receiving valuable support. We cannot guarantee that one of us will be on the forum at all times, especially at weekends and at night, but we will respond to any posts or private messages addressed to us as quickly as we can.

Our volunteer moderators will be looking out for any posts which do not follow the forum guidelines and will remove them if necessary. They will inform the staff team if the see any posts which:

• contain insulting personal remarks, are offensive, abusive or libellous or act in a way to cause harassment
• make comments that misrepresent or damage the reputation of Carers UK, whether on the Carers UK forum or on any other public forum or site
• are not constructive to the overall purpose and mission of Carers UK

Volunteer moderators will also alert the staff team if they are concerned about a forum user, especially if they think someone is at risk of harm. In such cases the staff team will follow Carers UK’s Safeguarding Procedure.

What happens when people don’t follow the guidelines?

When posting in the community please be sensitive to the fact that you are communicating with real people who may be dealing with very challenging real-life situations. We recognise that carers and former carers will be experiencing a range of emotions, including anger, and that you may sometimes need to ‘let off steam’. However, please consider how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by others, and be aware that any comments that are offensive, inappropriate or disruptive will be removed.

When a member does not follow our community guidelines, we may have to suspend their account. If someone repeatedly breaks our guidelines, we may implement a longer suspension or, as a last resort, a lifetime ban.

Posts discussing moderator actions taken by volunteer moderators or by Carers UK staff are not allowed, will be removed without prior notice and may result in further moderator action. Members who wish to take issue with any decision made should send an email to forum@carersuk.org . More details can be found under ‘Challenging a suspension or ban’.

What to do if you find offensive, inappropriate or disruptive comments

Please contact us at forum@carersuk.org and we will take appropriate action as soon as we can.

Challenging a suspension or ban

Any members who are unhappy with a moderation decision should contact forum@careruk.org and a member of our staff team will respond. If the issue cannot be resolved with our staff team, members should follow Carers UK’s Complaints Procedure.

Banned members attempting to re-register under new names/email addresses will have their accounts deleted.

Compliments and Complaints

We welcome all feedback about the forum and this should be sent by email to forum@carersuk.org. Feedback about moderation of our online community should also be sent to this email address and not posted on the forum.

We also welcome all feedback about Carers UK and this should follow our Compliments and Complaints Procedure which can be found in the Contact Us section of the Carers UK website. Our online community should not be used as a channel for complaints about Carers UK or its staff, trustees and volunteers. Any complaints that are posted in the open area of the forum will be removed and we will send a private message to the person concerned to remind them of the correct procedure.

Keeping safe

For your safety and security you should not post your personal address, email, phone number on the forum. You should also not post any identifiable information about the person you are looking after. We also ask that when you set up your username you do not use your full name. Any posts containing real names, addresses or phone numbers will be removed.

If you would like to contact other forum members please use the ‘Private Messages’ facility. There is more information about using Private Messages in the Your ‘how to’ guide for using the forum section.

Please remember that the information you post in most areas of the Forum is public. Unless you post in one of the ‘PRIVATE’ sections (only viewable by Carers UK members), your message can be read by people not logged onto the Forum and can potentially be found through search engines.

Reviewing our Community Guidelines

These guidelines have been produced following consultation with the community managers of other leading charities, volunteer moderators and Carers UK members who use the forum. They have been approved by Carers UK’s Senior Management Team and Board of Trustees and will be reviewed annually.

Unless stated otherwise, views expressed in this community are purely the views of the members and as such don't constitute professional recommendations or advice or the opinions of Carers UK. Forum members can seek information and advice by contacting our helpline:
0808 808 7777 (Monday to Friday 9am-6pm)