Seven national charities, employers, NHS and local government representatives met with the Minister of State for Care yesterday to discuss ways of getting unpaid carers better connected to vital support in the community.
It was an opportunity for professionals to highlight the support of the UK’s 6.5 million carers and their contribution to society and the economy.
Attendees discussed how Carers Week 2019, which kicks off in June, will help get carers connected to support in the community – whether it be access to health and care services, advice and information, carers networks or family and friends.
Speaking at the roundtable, Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK said that a reluctance to talk about caring is affecting millions of unpaid carers across the UK, meaning many aren’t getting the practical and emotional support they need.
“Most of us will look after someone, or be cared for, at some point in our lives so it’s in all of our interests to start the conversation and speak more openly about caring,” she said.
One in three unpaid carers looking after a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill has felt lonely or isolated because they are uncomfortable talking to friends about their caring role, according to a Carers UK survey.
A further third (32 per cent) say they feel socially isolated at work because of their caring responsibilities.
Despite the contribution of unpaid carers to society, an overwhelming majority (74%) feel their caring role isn’t understood or valued by their community. An unwillingness to talk about caring has for many carers created a barrier to their inclusion at work, home and in public life.
Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Care, said:”So many of us will care for our family, friends or a neighbour at some point in our lives but many of us don’t even recognise our caring role for what it is, which means we risk missing out on vital support.
“As a society we don’t value the incredible job carers do nearly enough. It’s so important that we work to make sure carers are connected to all parts of their community and raise awareness of their incredible contribution to ensure they feel comfortable to share their experiences and seek support.”
The roundtable kicked off the theme for Carers Week 2019, the UK’s annual drive to raise awareness of caring, which takes place between June 10 and 16 2019.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Carers Week 2019 will receive headline sponsorship from British Gas, part of Centrica, and will focus on ‘Getting Carers Connected’ to important support services, advice and information as well as family and friends.