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“Make Caring Visible and Valued”

This week charities are coming together to raise awareness, highlight the challenges and recognise the contributions of the 6.5 million unpaid carers across the UK. These carers are providing unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health condition or simply need extra help as they age.

Although many consider caring for their loved one, be it a child, sibling, parent, or grandparent the most important thing they do, the challenges and mental strain cannot go unnoticed. Caring can impact all parts of a person’s life including relationships and health through to finance and work. And this year the impact has only been made more significant by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. For many, the isolation and exhaustion of caring for a loved one has worsened throughout the repeated lockdowns, with their usual methods of relaxation and free time being cut off.

As a nation we need to recognise the vital contributions of the millions of unpaid carers and ensure they are receiving the correct support and advice. Carers can find local support groups and services by contacting your local council or reaching out to one of the charities listed at the end of this article. We’ve also laid out below some of the ways that you can reduce the challenges of caring.

Looking after yourself

To provide the best quality care to your loved one, you must look after your own health and wellbeing first. This is something that as a care provider we pay great importance to, ensuring that our own carers are receiving adequate 24/7 support and are being paid well above the real living wage. Ensure you are finding the time to exercise, socialise and destress. If you notice that you are struggling at all, maybe a loss of appetite, poor sleep or feeling lonely and isolated, make sure you take advantage of the services available and ask for help. All the charities involved in Carers Week provide support through online forums and social networks, helplines, online directories, and local groups.

Work and finances

Many unpaid carers are looking after a loved one, alongside their own paid job. If this is the case for you, make sure you are open with your employer, communicate your situation and

Remember that as a working carer, you have the right to request flexible working and time off in case of an emergency. Again, many of the charities listed at the end of this article can explain to you the impact on your finances and can signpost you to where you can access support.

Have a backup plan

Make sure you that you have a plan in place in case of an emergency. Have contact details at hand of a friend or family member who would be able to jump and help if the time comes. Keep all your records up to date with accurate information and ensure they are kept in a safe place.

Join the campaign

As part of Carers Week, we are supporting the call to government to increase funding for carers’ breaks. Follow the link below to ask your MP for support: https://carersuk.e-activist.com/page/81977/action/1?ea.tracking.id=cw-w

Charities that can provide unpaid carers support:

Age UK

https://www.ageuk.org.uk – 0800 678 1602 (8am – 7pm, 365 days a year)

Carers Trust

https://carers.org

Carers UK

https://www.carersuk.org – 0808 8008 7777 (Monday to Friday, 9am – 6pm) – advice@carersuk.org

MND Association

https://www.mndassociation.org – 0808 802 6262 – mndconnect@mndassociation.org

Q1Foundation

https://q1foundation.org.uk – 01491 525 637 (Monday to Friday, 10am – 2:30pm) – info@q1foundation.org.uk

Rethink Mental Illness

https://www.rethink.org – 0808 801 0525 (Monday
to Friday, 9:30am – 4pm)