Leeds charity calls for more support for ‘invisible’ carers

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Too many unpaid carers are feeling invisible and undervalued, and many are living in circumstances which are leaving them at breaking point, a survey by a Leeds-based charity has revealed.

This week (10 to 16 June) is Carers Week and Carers Leeds, a charity which provides information, advice and support to unpaid carers in Leeds, are sharing the findings of its annual survey of unpaid adult and parent carers across the city.

  • 56% of unpaid carers reported that caring had a negative impact on their physical health, 70% reported it had a negative impact on their mental health.
  • 55% of unpaid carers said they had given up opportunities at work because of caring.
  • 38% of unpaid carers were always or mostly missing out on time for themselves or a break.
  • 32% of unpaid carers reported feeling often or always lonely.
  • Unpaid carers have gone without essentials such as keeping their home warm (21%) and skipping meals (20%).

An unpaid carer is someone who provides help and support to a family member, friend or neighbour who couldn’t manage without their help. This could be due to illness, disability, mental health problems or substance misuse.

The survey comes a week after WLD reported on calls for fairer rights for carers from Wortley man Jason Otene, who cares for his partner and receives carers allowance but has claimed he receives the equivalent of just 45p an hour.

679 unpaid carers responded to the survey, which asked them what they were most concerned about, their experiences as an unpaid carer and what matters most to them. 

The theme of this year’s Carers Week is ‘Putting Carers on the Map’. We have five recommendations are based on the findings of the survey:

  • Public sector funding cuts – Include unpaid carers in equality impact assessments used to inform decisions to fund or cut health and care services, so that the risk of dis-investment – increased costs and demand for services (from the carer and the person with cared need) – is fully understood.
  • Health and wellbeing – Unpaid carers are now a priority within the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Strategy. Ensure that this results in action to address carer health inequalities, with a focus on transformation and strategic Health and Care projects in Leeds (e.g. Healthy Leeds Plan priority projects and Home First).
  • Money and the cost of living – Leeds initiatives targeted at the cost of living or poverty reduction should include unpaid carers. Local organisations to join with Carers Leeds to support a national campaign to reform the benefits system to better support carers. This should include raising the level of Carer’s Allowance, increasing its earnings limit, and introducing a taper.
  • Work and Unpaid Care – Design and deliver a tailored Leeds based employment support programme to help unpaid carers who want to work, return to work. Work with Carers Leeds to increase the number of ‘carer friendly’ employers across our city’. Ensure that work and unpaid care is visible in other local employer initiatives, such as the Fair Work Charter.

Claire Turner, Chief Executive of Carers Leeds, said: “Carers Week provides us with an opportunity to recognise and support unpaid carers. We know that providing unpaid care can be incredibly rewarding but it can also be hugely challenging. If someone in our city is providing unpaid care for family, friends or neighbours, they must not do so at a cost to their own health and wellbeing, finances, or relationships.

“The daily struggles and pressures, combined with worries about the future, are dominating many people’s caring experience. During Carers Week and beyond we must ensure that unpaid carers in Leeds have the information, advice and support they need to undertake their caring role and are able to live fulfilling lives.”

You can read the full report here.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Not helped by Leeds Council introducing charges for part time daycare, leaving households with even less. Approved by councillors.

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