Carers' Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.

Are Carers visible?

The theme this year’s Carers’ Week has never been more pertinent. The pandemic has created a new raft of people who have become Carers for their loved ones during and after COVID-19. And not everyone realises… so many unpaid carers, typically family members, are carers for the people they love. The majority are women, many of whom are juggling trying to raise a family, and have paid employment in conjunction with their caring role, often their employers are unaware of their situation.

Many family members do not consider themselves as Carers – they simply feel they are a spouse/daughter/sibling/friend. However, they are often providing care without realising that without their support the person they are looking out for would miss out in many ways.

Parent carers feel they are just doing their job as parents, not realising the extra responsibilities and costs of looking after a disabled child.

One particular group that is often missed is the Young Carers – children, some as young as four, act as Carers for their parents or another older relative in some way and have no idea that they are doing so – they simply think it is part of how they live their lives.

Are Carers Valued?

Hopefully by the people they are looking after… but arguably not so in other ways

Eligible Carers who get Carers allowance receive £67.25 per week for providing round the clock care to their loved one but that is not continued once they receive their own state pension. Compare that with someone requiring full time care in a care home who can expect to pay £1,000 + per week – sometimes much more. Carers often have to take unpaid leave to look after the person they care for which can cause financial difficulties.

Being valued is not just about money: it is about a feeling of worth and the esteem in which you are held. Many Carers, in spite of the lack of financial support, find their responsibilities enjoyable and worthwhile and would never want to ask for anything in return.

At Princess Alice Hospice we see so many who describe the privilege of being able to care for the person they love and the feeling of being able to be there to help them towards the end of their life as being one they treasure. We recognise them and offer support to them in Drop In sessions, Wellbeing sessions, the Choir, the ManShed and from our Compassionate Neighbours.

As a nation, we have a long way to go to fulfil the Carers’ Week brief and ensure that Carers are recognised for all the valuable work they do – the staff here and some of our Carers already know it.