“Carers don’t choose to become Carers. It just happens and they have to get on with it. If they did not do it, who would and what would happen to the person they care for?”Carers Trust
There are around seven million Carers in the UK – that is 1:10 and the number is rising. The economic value of the contribution made by Carers in the UK is £132bn a year. Without them our health and social care systems would collapse.
Caring for someone has many rewarding aspects, but it can also impact negatively on the Carer’s physical and mental health, social life, career and relationships.
- Many Carers have to give up work or take low-paid, part-time work, and so are pushed into poverty.
- Caring can be physically and emotionally exhausting. A Carer might have to lift someone much heavier than themself or suffer the distress of seeing their loved one in pain.
- Carers can feel like they have a constant battle to access help for themselves and the person they care for, for example receiving the right diagnosis or getting the adaptations they require for the home.
- They may become isolated, lose friends and find it hard to make new ones because it is difficult to leave the house.
Supporting Young Carers
Looking after a sick or disabled relative or friend as an adult is challenging enough. However, it is estimated 175,000 children under the age of 18 also care for a parent or sibling who is ill or disabled in the UK.
Childhood should be a carefree time, but these children have to grow up fast, often taking on domestic and emotional responsibilities at a young age
Being a Young Carer can affect a young person’s health, social life and self-confidence.
- They may struggle to juggle their education and caring which can cause pressure and stress.
- Young Carers are more likely to be bullied at school, and 1 in 20 miss school because of their caring role.
- Being a Carer means offering emotional support, too, even if you’re just a child.
- In a Carers Trust survey, 39% of Young Carers said that nobody in their school was aware of their caring role. This lack of recognition often leaves them feeling isolated and misunderstood.
Offering information and advice
Carers Support Merton reaches out to Carers of all ages with information, advice and guidance at every stage in their journey.
- We are able to help them understand their rights, and to gain practical skills such as first aid.
- We are able to offer emotional support.
- We help other professionals, such as teachers, GP’s and health services staff to recognise when someone is caring and make sure they know how to put them in touch with services which can help them.
- We provide support groups and signpost to activities and respite so Carers feel less alone, and have a break from their responsibilities.
- We advocate on behalf of a Carer to help them navigate complex health and social care systems, or to help ensure their needs are better understood at school, college or at work.
All of these things help a Carer to lead a more fulfilling life, stay well and sustain their caring role.