LETTER: Time to nominate the unsung carers

The social care crisis that repeatedly makes headline news places increased demands on the role of family carers.

They may not regard themselves as “carers” as this is something they are probably used to doing without a second thought.

It can be a daughter who cares for an elderly relative with dementia, the mother who has a child with special needs, or a husband or wife whose spouse needs extra looking after as they grow more frail.

This is why we are celebrating the unstinting dedication of family carers and their inspiring selfless stories with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Pride in Our Carers Awards. This is their chance to nominate and say Thank You!

The figures speak for themselves. Carers UK tell us that three in five people will be carers at some point in their lives, that every year over 2.1 million adults become carers, 1.4 million people provide over 50 hours of unpaid care per week and it is estimated there will be nine million carers in the UK by 2037.

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There are over 78,000 unpaid family carers in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Having an unpaid caring role can result in huge stress, financial hardship - and more than three million people have given up their jobs or reduced working hours to care, often because they felt they had little choice. Their social life suffers too as they prioritise being a carer, becoming isolated even within families.

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The law says people have a choice about whether to care – but new government policy is that families should look after their older parents, so caring will affect many more people. We believe that such informal carers deserve public recognition for their dedication and devotion for going the extra mile to make a difference to someone else’s life. Most care in our country is provided by families and friends and we want everyone to acknowledge and celebrate their selflessness.

Poignantly, carers in our communities can be as young as five-years-old and reach into their nineties. We know that young carers can suffer bullying and lower exam results because of their caring role at home - perhaps caring for a family member with a disability or addiction.

At the other end of the age scale there are increased numbers of older carers in their 80s and 90s who may not have the best health themselves, but remain dedicated carers.

We would also like nominations for carer-friendly workplaces and schools, as well as the GP practices and healthcare professional that are especially supportive. Their stories can inspire others to be carer-friendly too.

Please nominate now – the closing date is Friday April 7. Winners will be announced at a celebratory event in Cambridge on Tuesday June 13 during national Carers Week held in conjunction with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council.

I would like to praise ALL family carers and those who help them and hope more people come forward for the right help and support for what has to be one of life’s greatest challenges. They are all winners in our eyes.

To nominate see our website: www.carerstrustcambridgeshire.org, email comms@carerstrustcambridgeshire.org or phone 01480 499090.

DR HELEN BROWN CEO Carers Trust Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

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