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A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a family member or friend who due to illness or disability cannot cope without their support. Anyone can become a carer; the role spans all cultures, ages and genders. Caring can involve physical or practical intervention or emotional support and encouragement. You do not need to live in the same house as somebody to be their carer.  Many carers do not define themselves as carers, preferring to use terms like “mother”, “son”, or “partner”. In the UK, however, it is the act of being identified as a carer that often enables people to access support, guidance and entitlements.

Recent polling (2019) published by Carers UK has suggested there could now be as many as 8.8 million adult carers in the UK, compared to 6.3 million adult carers recorded in the 2011 Census. The number of people aged 65 years or over who are caring has grown from 1.4 million to potentially over 2 million. This is a 43% increase from 2011 to 2019.

In addition research – conducted by the universities of Birmingham and Sheffield – was highlighted on Carers Rights Day in November 2019 by the Charity Carers UK and claims that two thirds (65%) of all adults can expect to care for a loved one in their lifetime. Women are also likely to be unpaid carers at an earlier age than men – on average in their 50s – causing them to need to juggle caring with other work and family responsibilities.

Separate research by the charity Carers UK also highlights the consequences for carers coping without support. In a study of those caring more than 50 hours a week, almost half (49%) reported their finances had been negatively impacted, 52% had suffered poorer physical health and the vast majority (77%) were suffering from stress or anxiety as a result of missing out.

One of the key aims of the Meriden Programme is to ensure the involvement of carers and service users both in the training and delivery of family work and in the promotion of family sensitive mental health services. As such, the programme has trained a number of carers as family work practitioners and several family work trainers. Carers are actively involved in the design of Meriden training courses, the production of resources and materials, co-deliver training and awareness sessions, facilitate group learning and contribute to service development through representation at a variety of networks and group meetings.

Peter Woodhams and Jeanette Partridge work as an integral part of the Meriden team as Carer Consultants, with numerous other carers providing sessional training and consultation.

Through its Carer Consultants Meriden runs a network of those carers who have an interest in family work, have benefited from family work, or wish to participate in the training of family workers. If you are interested in joining this network please contact our Carer Consultants:

Peter Woodhams

Email: peterwoodhams@nhs.net

Telephone: 0121 301 2708

Jeanette Partridge

Email: jeanette.partridge@nhs.net

Telephone: 0121 301 2896


Additional Resources: 

For additional information, please see our Reference list.

Our Caring for Yourself manual can be found in our Resources section

In addition, the Recovery for Carers section of this site offers a comprehensive array of resources and materials specifically aimed at carers and family members wishing to support a loved one with mental health issues.