Vanessa’s Story – how community micro-providers gave family a creative care solution

Somerset’s growing army of community micro-providers is playing a key role in meeting the county’s care needs and giving people in Somerset more choice over their care.

Nationally and locally there is a growing shortage of carers and care agencies are struggling to recruit more. Somerset has recognised this issue and has kick started a community of micro-providers in the county to support and care for people at home.

These are local, independent people who are set up to offer a flexible, local alternative to traditional services for families who want to take control of their care. In the last year Somerset County Council, in partnership with Community Catalysts, has helped over 70 community micro-providers set up in the local area.

One of the growing number of people benefitting from this support is Vanessa, from the Quantock Hills, who has four independent community micro-providers to support her husband Jerry. Vanessa has shared her experience of community micro-providers and the benefits to her and her husband in a short film.

In the film Vanessa praises the support of community micro-providers, she said: “I am delighted with the carers. They come when they say and do exactly what we need them to do and more. My husband benefits from it, he is much more relaxed… They all make you feel that they are here for the right reasons and they are very sympathetic to Jerry’s needs. He is very special and he needs a certain amount of understanding and they are all very good with him. In fact excellent, I couldn’t speak too highly of them.”

Vanessa receives a direct payment for her husband Jerry, which is when the Council gives the cost of a person’s assessed care directly to them to spend. Allowing them to have more control when, where and how the care is provided.

Venetia, a community micro-provider who supports Vanessa and Jerry, said: “I can give people what they want in the time that they want. I can place the calls so that I can do them in the amount of time I find comfortable and they find comfortable. The main benefit for the people I work with is that they get a familiar face.”

Carolyn, a community micro-provider who supports Vanessa and Jerry, said: “I do it because I love it and I want to do a good job. I want to provide the care that I would like to have when I am older. I have more time to talk to people and I can give them a better quality of life. The families are really grateful and can’t thank us enough for the care we provide.”

Watch a short film of Vanessa’s story here:

William Wallace, Cabinet Member for Adults Services, said: “We want to offer the widest possible choice to people with social care and support needs in Somerset. The community micro-enterprise project, run by the Council in partnership with Community Catalysts, gives skilled individuals the tools they need to provide professional local services to meet the needs of local people.

“Micro-providers can offer anything from home help and care at home to social groups and gardening services. All of which help people to stay independent and living in their own home.”

Small start-up and existing providers can get practical information from the micro-enterprise project on everything from regulation to training and sources of funding. The project offers support, feedback, advice and signposting to help people establish a new venture or help existing enterprises.

If you are interested in setting up, or are already running a small service which is local, independent and has less than five employees or volunteers please contact Rhys on 07595 411 945 or by email:

Care and support providers can advertise their services for free on a new website called Somerset Choices. People can use the website to search for services in their local area and choose the care they want. To find out more about Somerset Choices and to advertise services visit: