A Cambridgeshie-based charity is urging people to act so people looking after a family member or friend get the help that they need and deserve.

Carers have a range of rights that can make a difference to them, but Caring Together says possibly the biggest barrier to them accessing these rights is that there is such low awareness of who unpaid carers are.

This month sees Carers Rights Day being held to raise awareness of the rights of unpaid carers, and the St Ives charity says people simply knowing what an unpaid carer is and that charities like them can support them is essential to carers making the most of their rights.

Even relatively small actions could have a huge impact on the lives of the more than 150,000 unpaid carers across Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Norfolk.

More than three in five people will be a carer at some point in their lives, and many will also need someone's support due to long-term illness, disability, frailty or mental health challenges.

Miriam Martin, Caring Together's chief executive officer, said, "While caring is something that many of us come across and the demands of caring have a huge impact on the lives of many people, too often it is not recognised.

"More than 70 per cent of people who are looking after someone, or who have done so, do not even recognise they are a carer. And that is a huge barrier to them getting the support they may desperately need.

"We are asking people who are involved in shaping policies and services that affect carers to take action to address issues detailed in our Carers Speak Out report.

MOST READ TODAY: Emergency works lead to closure of busy Hunts road

"But all of us can play a role and make a difference. Simply saying to someone you know who is helping a family member, 'did you know you can get support?' could prevent them and the person they care for reaching crisis point."

How you can help

  • Checking a friend who is looking after a family member knows they can get support from charities like Caring Together.

  • Let their employer know Caring Together has free resources available to help them be ready for the Carers Leave Act (which from next year means carers are legally entitled to a week of unpaid leave) at www.caringtogether.org/companies.

You can find out more about how you can make a difference to carers and pledge to support carers by visiting www.caringtogether.org/pledge.