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UNPAID carers are SEVEN times more likely to be lonely than other people.

Despite their enormous contribution to society, those providing vital support for loved ones also feel what they do is significantly less worthwhile compared to the general public.

The plight of unpaid carers who look after someone with an illness, disability, mental health condition, or as they grow older, is revealed by new research.

Not having enough time, or money, to participate in leisure activities, as well as the stigma of being a carer, means one in three are always or often lonely, compared with just one in 20 of the general population.

The study shows those struggling financially are over a third less likely to feel what they do is of value.

New estimates suggest there could be far more people caring unpaid than previously thought. There are a potential 8.8 million adult carers in the UK, up from 6.3 million estimated in the 2011 census – an increase of a third.

In the North West, close to 860,000 people, or 15% of the population, are carers.

With one in six adults now taking on a caring role and at a heightened risk of loneliness – referred to as one of the greatest public health challenges of our time – seven national charities have come together to highlight the urgent need for tackling loneliness and improving wellbeing among the UK’s carers.

Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK said: “With as many as one in six adults in the UK now taking on an unpaid caring role it is high time our society recognises and values the crucial support they provide.

“Many unpaid carers struggle alone without support. If we are to combat the loneliness epidemic facing them it is imperative that everyone – Government, employers, health and care professionals, schools and universities, and each of us individually – plays a role putting carers in touch with practical and financial help.

“Carers need to feel they are valued, understood and connected to their community.”

The research found:

  • More than two thirds (69%) of carers said they’d felt lonely because of not having time to participate in social activities.
  • Almost half of carers (47%) said they’d felt lonely because of not being comfortable with talking to friends about caring.
  • Nearly half of carers (46%) said they’d felt lonely because they couldn’t afford to participate in social activities.