7-13 June 2021 marks Carers Week in the UK, an annual campaign to raise awareness, highlight the challenges faced by people in this role and to recognise their positive contributions. This year the campaign is particularly focusing on the unique challenges which carers have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic. During this time many carers have suffered as a result of the limitations of shielding and a lack of access to their usual support systems.
Carers are amazing people who do invaluable work to support family, friends and loved ones who are living with physical or mental health problems. There are an estimated 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK with approximately 800,000 of these young carers. According to the Carers Trust 64% of unpaid carers are spending 50 hours or more per week caring for a family relative.
Being an unpaid carer can be extremely rewarding, however it can also be very tough as it can impact many areas of life including relationships, work, finances, health and leisure time. Sadly research shows that carers themselves experience higher rates of depression and anxiety compared to the general population.
A survey by Carers UK in 2015 showed that due to their caring role 55% of carers report suffering from depression, 78% report feeling anxious and 84% report feeling stressed.
In September 2020 the Carers Trust surveyed 2,000 unpaid carers and the results were very concerning with many carers reporting that they are at ‘breaking point’. Carers are crying out for more support from the government in terms of respite, financial support and better health, social care and education services for the person they care for.
It’s important that carers have access to opportunities to look after their own physical and emotional wellbeing. It’s like when we get on a plane and the flight attendance tells us ‘if the oxygen masks need to be released please put your own on before helping others’. However, this isn’t always easy as there is a lot to consider such as who will provide care in your absence, what can you afford to do, how long can you be away for?
Carers need to know that they are not alone
If you know someone who is a carer keep in touch with them on a regular basis and ask them if there are any practical ways you can help.
If you are a carer then build a support system around you, reach out to friends and family for help, speak to your GP, research local organisations and make sure you’re accessing the right financial support.
To find out more about what is happening this Carers Week and to access information and support check out these websites …