The money you give us makes a real difference to carers living in the UK. Our work is designed to make the maximum difference to carers' lives.
Just one of the thousands of people we help is Clare Lally. Clare and her husband Derek care for their daughter, Katie who was born prematurely with a life-threatening condition and is unable to walk, talk or swallow. She is always at risk of choking so needs to be watched 24/7.
Clare says, "It has been a long road with a lot of obstacles and brick walls in our path. There's nothing worse than feeling alone, feeling isolated, like you're the only person in the world who's been through all these feelings. You don't know what to do and you don't know who to turn to.
Carers UK gave me a life. When I got in touch with Carers UK I met strangers who are now my friends.”
Carers UK focuses its work on
- Reach and influence
- Information and innovation
- Carer to carer support
Reach and influence
Caring will touch everyone at some point in their lives – whether caring for or being cared for by someone. Yet many of the public have little understanding of the impact disability and caring can have on your life. Most carers simply do not know what help is available.
Our partners, such as Sainsbury’s and Nutricia help us reach carers through their customers and employees.
Our website and social media such as Facebook and Twitter put us in touch with hundreds of thousands of carers.
- 800,000 people visited our website
- Over 200 million opportunities to see Carers UK stories in the media
- 450 organisations affiliated to Carers UK
- Over 890 local organisations took part in Carers Rights Day and 1,800 in Carers Week
- 25,000 folowers and fans on Twitter and Facebook
Throughout our history Carers UK has been about leading a movement to secure recognition and support for carers. We do this by mobilising our growing number of supporters and working in partnership with other organisations that can help improve carers’ lives.
Our 18,000 members and growing are the lifeblood of Carers UK. They take action, such as writing to their MP to help bring about the changes that will make a difference. We bring carers together so they can call politicians to account at events like our National Carers Summits and the first ever Carers Parliament held in Scotland in 2012.
Today we are seeing unprecedented changes to our welfare system. Carers UK has been using its influence to fight to protect families who are already struggling with the costs of caring. In 2012 our lobbying with other family charities helped exempt carers from changes to Tax Credits which would have meant families losing thousands of pounds a year. Our campaign on the 'Bedroom Tax' reached over 1 million people online, using families’ stories to show why carers should be protected..
How we fund our social care system at a time of rapidly growing demand is a major challenge for the 21st century. Carers UK formed the Care & Support Alliance of the 70 major older and disabled people’s charities in the country – our campaigning made front-page news and won new measures to cap the costs of long-term care. Carers Wales helped secure the ground-breaking Carers Measure in Wales on carers' health and wellbeing and across the UK, Carers UK has been at the forefront on developing new policy on the future of care and support, technology and juggling work and care.
We empower carers to help influence local services. Our branches provide carers with a local voice. Our Carer Ambassador Project,funded by the Department of
Health and in partnership with the Carers Trust and Royal College of GPs, trained and supported 50 carer volunteers across England in 2012/13 to help improve support to carers provided by GPs – often the first port of call for carers.
Our research provides an authoritative picture of carers’ lives and delivers policy solutions. Published at a landmark policy conference bringing together carers, commissioners and frontline professionals, our State of Caring 2013 research tracked the impact of caring across carers’ health, finances and experiences of accessing support. In 2012 we published new research into Sandwich Caring, highlighting the pressures of balancing childcare and caring for older or disabled loved ones often alongside work.
As 2013 brings the start of implementation of the Welfare Reform Act, new social care legislation and further public spending cuts, Carers UK continues to fight carers’ corner, with detailed scrutiny of Government legislation and spending plans and the establishment of a Caring & Family Finances Inquiry.
Information and innovation
Many carers have to battle with a complex, bureaucratic system to try and get the help they need. Filling in benefit forms or putting in place home helps, residential care or direct payments - these are just some of the challenges facing carers. Carers
Our advisers are benefits experts, who understand the law and make sure carers get what they are entitled to. Our volunteers on our Advice Line are carers themselves or have recent caring experience who really understand what carers are going through.
"We have been carers now for 14 years. It has been a long and difficult journey. It’s tough to talk about it, it’s tough to live with it, but when we see our son well it makes it all worthwhile. Carers UK are always there. We’ve been able to find help with practical information and have found support sharing experiences with other carers online.” Sherry Pugh, Carers UK member
Our website has a wealth of information on caring. New areas added in 2012 include nutrition and tips to cope with a low mood. We updated our popular guide on carers’ rights, Looking after someone, together with factsheets on changes to benefits.
In 2012 we receeived 16,000 queries from carers on their rights, benefits and practical help. One call to our experts can make a difference :
- On average a caller's income is increased by £48.52 a week or £2,523 a year following advice from one of our Advisers
We believe in working alongside those professionals whose work can directly improve carers’ lives. Carers UK provided training to over 650 health and social care professionals on the law and how to provide the very best support to carers. We worked with local authorities such as Oxford and Southwark to help them transform their carer services. We published the definitive guides to carers and the law in England and Wales and Scotland. Together with our partners, Nutricia, we are educating carers and those working with carers on how to spot signs of malnutrition and get the help they need. Our Islington and Kensington and Chelsea projects are looking at how best to support carers at local level.
Carers UK has been working to find new ways to help families and carers, including through technology. We have been promoting the benefits of assistive technology which can give carers peace of mind, reassuring them that their loved one is safe in their home with the help of alarms and sensors. In 2012 we trialled an app that can keep carers connected with everyone involved in a person's care, and will now roll this out at scale.
Over half of all carers – 3 million - juggle their caring responsibilities with some form of paid work, but a lack of support at work or the pressure of finding flexible care services mean that 1 in 5 carers are forced to give up work. Carers UK set up the Employers for Carers membership forum to help employers develop polices and practices that support their staff with caring responsibilities, and to help influence policy on work and care.
Over 70 companies and organisations now belong to Employers for Carers, with recent members including Sainsbury's, the Cooperative Group and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Together, these organisations reach over 1 million employees and we used our influence to make a new economic case for investment in social care services. In 2012 we helped the London Fire Brigade set up a virtual carer support network for its employees, as well as working with companies like BT and Centrica to promote flexible working and leave arrangements which can help their employees with caring responsibilities to juggle work and care.
Carers helping carers
As carers we believe we are best placed to understand the stresses and strains caring can bring. That’s why we use volunteers, who have experienced caring, to help us deliver a range of support.
Our website forum is a genuine lifeline for many who feel isolated and alone. A place where you can talk to other carers about the ups and downs of caring, any time, day or night.
In 2012 we looked at new ways to support carers. Our telephone listening ear service, funded through ITV Text Santa 2013 was successfully trialled in 2012 and gives callers an opportunity to talk about their caring situation – something they may find difficult to do with family and friends. Our partnership with volunteer mentoring charity Timebank is testing new ways of delivering face to face and online carer support.
In 2012 our listening support pilot service supported 427 callers, with 168 receiving a call back from an expert adviser and 120 carers receiving listening support.
Our local branches, all volunteer led, help break the isolation faced by many carers by providing practical hands-on support to families, social activities and information events. Funding through ITV Text Santa 2011 helped 47 branches and carers' groups around the UK provide social activities in the run up to Christmas for hundreds of carers.