Are you a carer? National Carers Week
This week is National Carers Week. Carla Lockhart MP said “Carers are unsung heroes. They do amazing work and don’t get the practical or financial support they deserve.”
Carers Week was established to raise awareness for the 6.5 million carers in the UK, 700,000 of those are under 18.
Some people are carers and don’t even recognise they are one, as it can be hard to recognise when you are doing what comes naturally to look after a loved one.
A carer is someone who provides unpaid support to a family or friend for a physical or mental disability, elderly relative or anyone who wouldn’t be able to keep themselves healthy, safe and looked after alone.
The Carers Week Organisation have launched a report called ‘Breaks or Breakdown’, recognising the invaluable support that carers have given during the pandemic. 72% of carers have not had any caring breaks since the pandemic and those that did get a break used the time to complete practical tasks or housework. The six charities supporting Carers Week are calling on the government to provide 1.2 billion in funding for unpaid carers breaks, so that those caring 50 hours plus get some much needed self-care to support their own health and wellbeing.
To help us raise of awareness for Carers Week, we interviewed James Hunt, who is a carer for his two autistic sons and his parents.
James explained to us that caring can be challenging; “There’s feelings of guilt, that what you are doing as a carer isn’t enough.
You are stressed trying to meet their needs and tired because you barely get a break. Carers are often isolated and have to give up their careers or work part time so there’s a financial impact.”
Finances for carers are a concern. Its unpaid labour so there needs to be job flexibility if employed work is an option but many like James feel that being self-employed is the only way to have a career, as he needs to work around his caring responsibilities. There is government support for carers, though the criteria to access carers allowance is stringent and if you do qualify it equates to a measly £67 a week, shockingly the lowest state benefit available.
Given the formidable nature of life as a carer, self-care is important. We asked James his tips and coping strategies.
James recommends looking after yourself as well as the people we care for. It’s a difficult one for some to find time but things like exercise can help our physical and mental health. If you crash and burn how can you support others?
James says “Finding support and like-minded people, whether its online or even better in the community, is invaluable as you don’t feel alone and can chat to the only people who really get what you are going through. “
If we didn’t have carers the NHS and social care system would collapse, so carers need to be visible and valued.
To watch the full piece on Carers Week by James, head over to our Instagram page, or go direct here: