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THE new UK Government will be urged to set out plans to do more for Britain’s ever-growing army of carers, following a new shock study.

Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “It is deeply concerning that three-quarters of respondents feel carers are undervalued by society.”

The study revealed that more than 7 in 10 (74%) feel carers are not sufficiently valued by society for the support they provide.

And this figure rises to just over eight in ten (83%) of those who have previous experience of caring themselves.

The unpaid care provided by the UK’s carers has been estimated to be worth £132 billon a year.

Speaking as Carers Week gets under way on Monday, Heléna Herklots, said: “The Carers Week charities seek to raise awareness of the huge contribution that carers are making every day to the lives of the family and friends they support and to their communities.

“In Carers Week we’re calling on the public, government and all parts of society to play their part in supporting carers by helping to build communities that recognise and understand the value and needs of carers.

“From hospitals that provide discounts for carers in their cafés, or workplaces that give employees paid leave for caring; to offering to shop for a friend who struggles to get out of the house, there are hundreds of small changes we can make to ensure our communities become more carer friendly.

“We urge our new Government to do more to value and recognise the contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers and urgently set out its plans by publishing a strategy for carers. As a society we depend on unpaid carers – it’s time we had a plan for how to better recognise and support them.”

What is a carer?

A carer is someone who provides unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health problem or who needs extra help as they grow older.

For some, taking on a caring role can be sudden: someone in your family has an accident or your child is born with a disability. For others, caring creeps up unnoticed: your parents can’t manage on their own any longer or your partner’s health gradually worsens.

The amount and type of support that carers provide varies considerably. It can range from a few hours a week, such as picking up prescriptions and preparing meals, to providing care day and night.

Caring will touch each and every one of us in our lifetime, whether we become a carer or need care ourselves. Whilst caring can be a rewarding experience, it can also have a damaging impact on a person’s health, finances and relationships.

Facts about carers

  • 6.5 million people in the UK are carers; that’s 1 in 8 adults (Census 2011)
  • By 2037, it is estimated that the number of carers in the UK will rise to 9 million (Carers UK)
  • Every day another 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility – that equals over 2 million people every year (Carers UK)
  • 58% of carers are women and 42% are men (Census 2011)
  • The unpaid care provided by the UK’s carers is worth £132 billion per year, an average of £19,336 per carer (Carers UK, University of Sheffield, University of Leeds)
  • Over 3 million people juggle care with work, however the significant demands of caring mean that 1 in 5 carers are forced to give up work altogether (Carers UK)
  • A BBC Survey (2010) estimated there are more than 700,000 young carers
  • There are 376,000 young adult carers in the UK aged 16-25 (Census 2011)
  • 1 in 5 people aged 50-64 are carers (Census 2011)

Carers Week 2017 is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, MS Society and Which? Elderly Care and kindly supported by Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition and the Lockwood Foundation.

www.carersweek.org