An inconvenient truth about caring

I’m three months into the new job and this is my first Carer Week. It’s really impressive to see how much activity is taking place across the UK. Local carers services have been brewing up a whole range of events in local libraries, town halls, shopping centres, social media and much more besides. Carers Trust have been on TV and radio, raising awareness of carers and the work of our local carers services.

On Tuesday, Carers Trust, with carers and other charities, chatted to lots of MPs at a Westminster parliamentary event.  Also in Westminster, Parliament is having its first full day carers debate for several years this Thursday.

It’s important we continue to raise awareness because we know that many carers go unsupported. Carers Trust Network Partners see about half million of the UKs carers. Which leaves nearly 5m who don’t access these valuable services. This might well be that many carers decide these services are not for them. Much more likely is that they are simply not aware that they exist.  Our ambition is to see our Network Partners reach many more of these carers, to let them know about the support that’s available.

I sat in on a drop in session in my local carers centre last week.

Mona (not her real name) is a single mother of 3 children, one of whom has been severely disabled all her life. Having reached the age of 18 her disabled daughter is now entitled to employment support allowance. ESA for short. The ESA form is a formidable 52-page booklet, seeking all sorts of information about the claimant. Given that Mona and her daughter have been in receipt of statutory services for the last 18 years, it’s almost certain that most of the information they’re asking for is known to statutory authorities already. Sitting in others systems probably. Mona’s English was good and she said she could probably fill out the report herself, were it not for the fact that she’s completely exhausted. The form’s already a month overdue so they’ve lost out on some benefits already. The staff in the centre were incredibly helpful. They phoned the ESA folk straight away to check on the deadline and are going to sit down with Mona to help her complete the form and send it off. They’re also going to try to get Mona a break. Possibly with a grant from Carers Trust. I hope she’s successful. As she was leaving I told Mona about the weekly carers film club in the Carers Centre, which got her all excited. Let’s hope she checks that out too.

Despite all of the help that’s on offer to carers, from Carers Trust Network Partners  and many others, Monas case, and the evidence in this year’s State of Caring report, reminds us that life remains really tough for many of the UK’s carers.

So in this week of celebrating all that carers do, let’s not forget the inconvenient truth, that many UK carers are not having a good time.

There was no sign that Mona had received her Care Act Assessment under the new legislation. Carers Trust has been looking into how the new Care Act is working for Carers one year on. Look out for the report in early July. We hope it will give government, both national and local, important evidence about what needs improving, and food for thought as the new national carers strategy is being developed.

In the meantime, if you’re supporting carers or are a carer yourself, see if you can take some time to take part in Carers Week this week.  There’s a lot of fun stuff happening all over the UK, quite possibly near you or if not on-line.

Remember Carers Trust is here to help. You can find your local carers service by calling 08448004361 or on


Joe Gannon is Director of Policy and Research at Carers Trust.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Campaigning is easy (when you have help!)

I’ve had this feeling lately that campaigning is really easy but then I’m getting a lot of help. I have had young adult carers creating campaigns and then I do the easy bit of getting the message out there to all the lovely people in contact with Carers Trust.

A young adult carer got in contact about her student group’s campaign for UCAS to change their application form. That way carers can identify themselves using a tick box. Carers Trust is getting the message out there and collecting signatures for the group’s petition. Continue reading

May 27, 2016 Posted by | Young adult carers | Leave a comment

Dying matters to carers

This week is dying matters week, the week will be used to highlight the importance of having conversations with our close family members and friends about what we would like when we are at the end of our life, and how we would like to be remembered. We are encouraged to get ‘our house’ in order and to fulfil as much of our bucket list as we can. Continue reading

May 12, 2016 Posted by | Health | Leave a comment

Finding and staying in work – not an easy job

Finding a job is not easy for anyone. Once you’ve had a think about what you would like to do, completed various online personality tests on what job would suit you best and asked everyone you know what they think, you get to the task of actually searching for work. Then you have to decide where’s best to look – online, in newspapers, through friends and family, maybe contact a recruitment agency?

Amidst all of this you must start writing a CV, covering letters and completing application forms – and of course, all jobs are different and expect different things during the application process. Continue reading

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Employment, Young adult carers | Leave a comment

The big reveal

Last week a group of young carers and young adult carers spoke in the Houses of Parliament. They talked about a subject that had never been covered in this type of discussion. The subject is probably a really familiar one for anyone who works with young carers but it is not really known by the general public – the mental health of young carers. Continue reading

March 3, 2016 Posted by | Mental Health, Young adult carers, Young carers | Leave a comment

‘And carers’… thoughts on the Mental Health Taskforce Report

I travel a lot. Not fun travel like “oh I just popped to Marrakech for the weekend” travel, but travel for work as in “yes I’m in Darlington today then I’ve got to get to Taunton tomorrow” – that sort of travel. The travel has a purpose (I don’t just have the weirdest idea of ‘fun’ ever), the purpose is carers, the purpose is inclusion, the purpose is change, the purpose is the Triangle of Care. Most weeks of the year I travel around talking to professionals in mental health services to support them to include carers in their services more; the Triangle of Care programme works to ensure carers are included, informed and supported in their own right whilst being able to have the skills and knowledge to support the person they care for better. On my travels I find the majority of people get it: they get that it makes sense to give carers more knowledge about how mental health services work; they get it that it makes sense to get them support in their own right; they get that whole family working makes sense for all involved. Continue reading

February 19, 2016 Posted by | Mental Health | Leave a comment

New Year, new opportunities, same priorities

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? At Carers Trust we’ve been thinking about our plans for 2016 and although we will want to try out new ways of delivering our campaigns, at the heart of what we do will remain the same priority: supporting unpaid carers.

And as we scan ahead into 2016, we have plenty of new opportunities to do just that. Continue reading

February 2, 2016 Posted by | Budget, Care Act, Scotland, Wales | Leave a comment

Visiting is not just for Christmas

Winter has taken a while to reach us this year but the cold weather has definitely arrived! Winter can be a difficult time for all carers, particularly those who are elderly or care for an older or physically disabled person. Some older people and those they care for can find moving around very difficult and for some people any movement without help is impossible. It is this group of people who are at the highest risk in winter – not just from the cold itself, which can be devastating, but from isolation, loneliness and depression. Continue reading

February 1, 2016 Posted by | Health, Isolation, Mental Health, Older carers | Leave a comment

Carers may be lonely this Christmas

The festive season is upon us; a time when most people are rushing about visiting friends, being invited to family celebrations and attending social events. This is not the picture for everyone however. Many carers lose contact with their relatives, friends and colleagues as they give up more of their previous life to take on the important role of caring. Many carers will find themselves at home during the holiday season, not able to get out due to their caring role, financial situation or own poor health. Continue reading

December 16, 2015 Posted by | Isolation | Leave a comment

George Osborne: invest in carers and protect our social care system

Before George Osborne unveils his Spending Review Carers Trust has one simple question to put to the Chancellor: will you help ensure unpaid carers get the support they need?

We now have legislation in place that would, if properly funded, make a genuine difference to the lives of carers across England. None of these improvements will become a reality without investment, however. It’s like giving a child a new toy for Christmas but without the batteries that will make it work. Continue reading

November 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment