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CARERSmainARE YOU one of the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers who are looking after disabled or older relatives or friends?

If so, you’ll probably know how difficult it can be to get the help you need.

As more and more organisations turn to the internet to disseminate their info more and more older carers, half of whom are not are connected, are finding themselves increasingly cut off and isolated.

Good to hear then that national charity Carers UK celebrated Carers Rights Day with the launch of three guides – two in print, one online – that aim to help people through the maze of benefits and support services.

The charity insists that having the right information at the right time can make a huge difference to carers.

Without this support, caring can take a serious toll on a person’s health, finances and wellbeing, they say.

Their research indicates that that of those who provide 35 hours or more care a week have not had a Carer’s Assessment from their local authority.

They also say that £1.1 billion of Carer’s Allowance (the main benefit for carers) goes unclaimed every year – and 95% of carers who are entitled to Carer’s Credit, which provides National Insurance contributions for those who have taken time out from work to care, are not claiming it.

Almost half a million people are also not claiming Carers Allowance, a weekly benefit worth £62.10p.

Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said:

“Important developments in the rights of carers mean it’s never been more important to make sure carers get the right information and advice about what they’re entitled to, when they need it.

“Every year, 2.1 million people begin caring for a disabled, older or seriously-ill loved one in the UK.

“Taking on a new caring role can happen quite suddenly and can turn many families’ lives upside down. It could be that a partner has a stroke, a parent has a fall, or a child is born with a disability.

“When people take on a new caring role, they tell us that it can be really difficult to get the help and advice they need. Without this support, caring can take a serious toll on a person’s health, finances and wellbeing.

“That’s why we’ve created these guides.”

The Carers Rights Guide and the Self-Advocacy Guide are available via the Carers UK’s Adviceline on 0808 808 7777

The online guide, Upfront, can be accessed at: www.carersuk.org/upfront

Click here to find out how the Bank Workers Charity are helping carers.