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Are you a Carer?

A carer is anybody who provides unpaid support to a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty or disability.

  • You may not see yourself as a carer but rather as the parent, son, daughter, brother, sister, friend or partner of a person who is affected by mental health difficulties. Caring is clearly part of your relationship with this person but it’s likely that you will be providing more emotional/physical support than the average family member or friend would for someone unaffected by a health issue.
  • You may live with the person you care for or they might live elsewhere.
  • When accessing help and support from organisations the word ‘carer’ can help you to access information, support, services, and benefits or allowances. It is a term recognised by health and social care services – who will have policies related to carers at both local and national levels.
  • Some agencies may use a tighter definition of being a carer, for example when applying for a carers allowance the number of hours each week that care is provided, will be taken into account.

Most people will have caring responsibilities at some time in their lives, and will have to face the challenges that these responsibilities bring. Many carers juggle their caring responsibilities with work, study and other family commitments. Some people, particularly younger carers, may chose not to be known as carers, and avoid telling relatives, friends and health and care professionals because of fear of separation, guilt, pride or other personal reason.

New figures released for Carers Week in June 2020 show that an additional 4.5 million people in the UK have become unpaid carers as a result of COVOID-19. This brings the total of unpaid carers up from 9.1 million, before the outbreak, to a huge new total of 13.6 million – one in four of all adults.

Based on polling carried out by YouGov in May 2020, the research report details this massive increase and the impact on unpaid carers who are providing care to an older, disabled or ill relative or friend. Polling carried out just a year ago – in 2019 recorded 8.8 million adult carers in the UK, compared to 6.3 million adult carers recorded in the 2011 Census.

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 the impact of caring on the carer.

Find out more about: carers rights carer assessments  benefits for carers 

You may also find the Rethink carers information pages useful.

Helpful services for carers
Recovery resources for professionals