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No one should have to care alone: break isolation

As part of our 50th Anniversary year, we're putting out the simple message: no one should have to care alone.

8 in 10 carers feel aloneAnd yet our new research found that 8 out of 10 carers have felt lonely or socially isolated as a result of looking after a loved one.

Lack of understanding from friends, colleagues and family, inadequate care services and financial pressures are just some of the reasons why caring can leave us feeling lonely and isolated.

Whether you're feeling lonely all the time or it's a feeling that comes and goes, it's important to take steps to break isolation. We've listed some of the things you can do below.

Get advice

Every day we hear from people who need help looking after a friend or family member. We're here to give you the information you need, when you need it.

Our website is full of information about all aspects of caring, from financial support to your own health and career. Have a look at our help menu to get started, browse our range of factsheets or download the Carers Rights Guide – our essential guide to your rights as a carer and where you can go for help.

If you want to talk to us about your caring situation we're here five days a week. Contact our Adviceline for a benefit check to make sure you're claiming everything you're entitled to, or to get advice on practical matters related to caring. 

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Talk to us

Sometimes it can help just to have someone to talk to.

As part of our Adviceline we also offer a listening service where you can talk through your caring situation with a trained volunteer who understands what you are going through.

Joanie knows what it's like to feel lonely while you're caring. She gave up work to care for her mum for three years.

It took over my life and at times it was very lonely, exhausting, exasperating and sad.

She now volunteers on the Adviceline, giving that support that only someone who has been through it themselves can.

The thank-yous are amazing. The laughs are just wonderful. People often are surprised that someone is actually taking the time to listen. It's very humbling.

The listening service is available on Mondays and Tuesdays - call 0808 808 7777.

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Connect with other carers

You don't have to leave your house to connect with other carers - our online support forum is open 24/7.

Sometimes, it can feel like our friends and family don't appreciate what it means to be a carer. Our support forum is a welcoming online forum where you can talk honestly and openly to people who understand the ups and downs of caring. Whether you want to share experiences, let off steam or have a laugh, we're here.

Once I took the plunge and posted the response I got was amazing. These kind, wonderful people knew what it's like to feel as though you've lost your own identity because of caring. They did more to help me than they will ever know.
- Pete 

Find out more about our online support forum and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

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Get an assessment

Caring can be exhausting, especially if we feel we're caring alone. Sometimes getting help with caring is essential to make sure we can have a life outside caring.

One way of accessing this help and support is through an assessment by a social worker.

A carer's assessment looks at your role as a carer: how being a carer affects you, how much caring you can do while still being involved in activities outside caring, and any help you may need.

A community care assessment is for the person you care for, and looks at what care and support they need.

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Take a break from caring

Caring for somebody can be more than a full-time job – so breaks are vital to your own well-being and quality of life.

Think about the kind of break that you need as a carer and what kind of service the person you are looking after needs. It may be that you can keep going if you just have a few hours to yourself on a regular basis, or you may need to get away on holiday for a week.

Read our online information and factsheet on taking a break.

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Find support in your local area

There are local carers' groups across the UK that provide services for carers and host social events and activities. 

Find out what groups there are near you, and get in touch to find out what services they offer.

I was feeling very flat and low when I booked to attend a carers' event a year ago. One carer noticed I was a bit quiet, and asked how I was. I told her exactly how I was feeling, and how my life felt like the exact same day over and over... It was the release I needed.
- Jacqui 

Find local carers' groups near you.

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Open up to family and friends

57 carers lost touch with family and friendsOur new research found that 57% of carers have lost touch with family and friends as a result of their caring role.

It may be that by putting the person you look after first, you no longer have the time to see other friends and family. Or sometimes it can feel like our family and friends just don't understand how caring has changed our life.

Think about why caring is making it hard for you to socialise as much as you used to. Are you unable to leave the house very often or at all because of the health or care needs of the person you care for? Or do money pressures make it hard for you to take part in social activites? Maybe it's hard for you to get out and about because of a lack of accessible venues, or because you think your family or friends find it difficult to talk about your caring role.

Make sure you talk honestly with your family and friends about the impact that caring is having on your life. It can be very upsetting to feel excluded, so it's important to make sure that your family and friends understand what they can do to make it easier for you to be included, whether it's finding somewhere with good disabled access, meeting at home to reduce costs or understanding that you may need to let off steam if things are difficult.

If you want to share your experiences with other carers and find out how they have dealt with this, visit our online forum.

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Get support at work

Even if you work in a busy office or other workplace, caring can still be a lonely experience.

38 of carers felt isolated from other people at work

You may feel that no one at work understands your situation, or be stressed that you can’t always give your work your full attention, or worried about how your loved one is coping while you are away from home.

It's important to open up about your caring responsibilities. From flexible working to time-off in emergencies, there are a range of ways your employer can help.

I used to feel lonely at work but I asked my employer if we could set up a staff carers forum. They agreed and it has been marvellous. 

Find out more about the support that is available to help you balance work and care.

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Share your story

Caring is part and parcel of everyday life, but carers often feel hidden.

By opening up about our caring experiences and sharing our story we can help everyone to understand caring better.

Share your story and tell us how caring feels for you.

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Campaign with us for change

We recognise that in order to ensure that no one has to care alone, we need to see real change in the way that carers are valued and supported.

With carers’ voices at its heart, our Caring and Family Finances Inquiry examined the impact of rising living costs, far-reaching changes to social security and cuts to services. Through our Carers' Manifesto, we're turning the Inquiry's evidence into clear action that the Government must take to ensure that no one has to care alone.

Join our campaign to call for all political parties to stop cutting carers' support, end carers' financial hardship and prevent carer breakdown.

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See if technology could help

Technology is never going to give us all the answers, but it may be able to make some aspects of your caring role a little easier.

Telecare technology can provide independence for those we're looking after, giving us the reassurance we need when we're away from the person we care for.

If you have family or friends who can help you with caring then an app like Jointly can help make staying in touch and coordinating tasks easier.

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