New figures released for Carers Week (8th – 14th June 2020) show an estimated 4.5 million people in the UK have become unpaid carers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
This is on top of the 9.1 million unpaid carers who were already caring before the outbreak, bringing the total to 13.6 million.
2.7 million women (59%) and 1.8 million men (41%) have started caring for relatives who are older, disabled or living with a physical or mental illness.
Typically, they will have been supporting loved ones from afar, helping with food shopping, collecting medicine, managing finances and providing reassurance and emotional support during the pandemic.
Some will have taken on intense caring roles, helping with tasks such as personal care, moving around the home, administering medication and preparing meals.
2.8 million people (62%) who have started caring since the outbreak are also juggling paid work alongside their caring responsibilities, highlighting the need for working carers to be supported as they return to offices and work sites.
The six charities supporting Carers Week – Carers UK, Age UK, Carers Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Oxfam GB and Rethink Mental Illness – are calling on the UK Government to recognise and raise awareness of the role unpaid carers are playing during the pandemic and ensure they are supported through it, and beyond.
Both unpaid carers (71%) and adults without caring responsibilities (70%) said managing the stress and responsibility of being an unpaid carer was/ would be the top challenge when caring. Families are under a huge amount of pressure managing their caring roles and are worried about how they will cope in the weeks and months ahead.
Polling of more than 4,000 members of the UK general public over 18 shows unpaid carers have become more visible within society since the pandemic began. There is a majority consensus for unpaid carers to receive more support from the Government than they do currently.
- Nearly half (48%) of the public who have never cared said they are more aware of unpaid carers than before the outbreak.
- More than two thirds (69%) of the public do not think that unpaid carers have been supported by the Government during the crisis.
- Three quarters (75%) thought the Government should increase support for unpaid carers: such as better financial support as well as investment in care and support services so that carers can take a break.
Carers Week in Carmarthenshire
During Carers Week 2020 Carmarthenshire’s Carers Support Services Network is inviting health and care services, schools, employers and businesses across the community to recognise the vital contribution made by unpaid carers in Carmarthenshire.
The Carmarthenshire Carers Support Services Network is an alliance of organisations, including Stroke Association, Macmillan and the Alzheimer’s Society, that work with carers in Carmarthenshire. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the network this year are organising a virtual campaign including social media.