Carers help to hold our communities and country together – but the vital work they do often goes unseen.
That is something this year’s Carers Week, which runs from 7 June to 13 June, is determined to change.
The awareness raising campaign celebrates the unpaid work of millions of people who support relatives or friends who are growing older or who have a disability or a mental or physical illness.
WHAT IS A CARER?
Carers Week has provided its own definition and it is deliberately lengthy – to reflect the breadth of activities carers are involved in.
The campaign defines a carer as someone who “cares (unpaid) for family or friends who have a disability, illness or who need support in later life: Washing them. And their laundry. And their dishes. Keeping appointments. And records. And tempers.
“Giving medicine. And time. And hugs. Filling forms. And fridges. And silences. Dealing with doctors. And nurses. And pharmacists. And social workers. And benefits agencies. And care workers. And a lack of sleep.”
Carers UK estimates that there are about 6.5 million carers, of all ages, in the UK – though in 2020 that figure more than doubled, to 13.6 million, because of the pandemic.
Many look after more than one person and provide more than 50 hours of caring each week.
VISIBLE AND VALUED
This year’s theme is Making Caring Visible and Valued, which aims to make more people recognise the enormous contribution made by carers and ensure they get the practical, financial and emotional support they need.
Carers UK is teaming up with Age UK, Carers Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Oxfam GB and Rethink Mental Illness for Carers Week 2021.
The six charities are calling on individuals, services and organisations across the country to get involved.
ADD YOUR VOICE
- Supporters are also being asked to: Spread the word about Carers Week on social media using the hashtag #CarersWeek
- Follow Carers Week on Twitter and Facebook
- Get in touch with local politicians and ask them to support the campaign
- Promote services for carers in your community
Hundreds of different activities have been organised across the country. A full guide – with interactive map – can be found on the campaign’s website where there are also tips on how to stage your own, virtual events for carers.
Locally, two virtual Lunch and Learn workshops are being held by Carers Leeds. For more details and to book a place follow these links:
- Understanding Dementia: Wednesday 9 June, 12pm to 1pm
- Wellbeing for Working Carers: Thursday 10 June, 12pm to 1pm
Harrogate College Principal Danny Wild said: “Carers Week and the support it offers to carers, by highlighting their invaluable but often unseen work, is really important to us as a college as it connects with our own values of nurturing and inclusiveness.”
A COLOSSAL CONTRIBUTION DURING COVID
Speaking on behalf of the Carers Week charities, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic unpaid carers have played an essential role supporting older, disabled and seriously ill relatives and friends, doing so most of the year on their own behind closed doors.
“They have forgone breaks from caring and much of the support they would normally have relied on.
“As restrictions ease it is vital that we acknowledge the enormous contribution that unpaid carers continue to make day in day out. I am delighted that many individuals and organisations are getting involved with virtual activities, helping carers to connect to others and access advice and information locally.
“Looking after someone can be a hugely rewarding experience, but it sometimes comes with difficulties, including getting the right support. This Carers Week I hope all parts of the community – family and friends, employers, businesses, schools, health and care services – do their bit to make caring visible and show it is valued.”