Monday 7 June 2021 marks the start of National Carers Week which is brought to life by individuals, groups and organisations coming together from around the UK.
This year, the campaign aims to shine a spotlight on the lack of breaks that carers have been able to take in the past year, and the worrying impact this is having on their health and wellbeing, as well as their ability to work and live a meaningful life beyond caring. To address this situation, Carers UK is calling on the Government to increase funding for carers’ breaks by an additional £1.2 billion as a matter of urgency, so that all carers providing significant hours of care can take a rest.
It is estimated that across the UK today 6.5 million people are carers, supporting a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill. For some taking on the role of a carer is sudden; someone you love becomes ill or has an accident, or a child is born with a disability. For others caring is progressive; where parents can no longer manage on their own, or a partner’s health gradually deteriorates. Caring is such an important part of life and the reality is that it will affect us all at some point. Covid-19 has seen many of us take on the role of an unpaid carer for the first time.
Carers who meet eligibility criteria can claim a carer’s allowance, which is currently paid at £67.60 per week. Whilst most carers want to provide care, and are committed to doing so, for some it is a necessity and the financial support available is minimal whereas the responsibility, commitment and associated pressures are extraordinary. Taking a break from caring is a luxury many do not have.
Charlene King, an associate in the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches Cooper, has first-hand experience of caring for a loved one and understands the responsibilities that come with it. During her work with clients, she sees a number of individuals who have significant injuries or disabilities and require long-term care. While in many cases that support may be provided by employed care funded by statutory services or through an injury claim, a substantial amount of care is often given by friends or family members. Charlene commented: “Caring for someone is a considerable undertaking and it can feel overwhelming at times. Carers need to know that they are not on their own. They need support too, and there are several fantastic organisations, locally and nationwide, that are committed to championing the needs and rights of carers. Not only is Carers Week an opportunity to raise awareness of caring and highlight the challenges unpaid carers face, it also allows us to recognise the contribution they provide to society and ensure their wellbeing is cared for.”