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No life of my own : the fate of the UK’s carers

14 June 2010
More than three-quarters (76%) of people looking after an ill, frail or disabled loved one do not have a life outside of their caring role, according to new research issued to launch Carers Week (14-20 June).

The results show that huge numbers of carers are left isolated and lonely, missing out on opportunities that the rest of the population takes for granted. 80% have been forced to give up leisure activities or from going out socially since becoming a carer.

The majority of those surveyed can no longer rely on relatives for support either, as these relationships have suffered as a result of caring- 75% say they have lost touch with family and friends.

Theresa, 50 from Glasgow cares for 3 people - her 2 sons, one of whom has Down's Syndrome, and her registered blind mother. Balancing full-time work with caring has meant sacrificing her life as she once knew it. She says: "A life of my own is a daydream. Caring demands are relentless, and costs you your health, relationships and happiness. To have a life of my own, for just one day would be marvellous."

Despite saving the UK economy £87 billion annually by relieving pressure on health and social services, carers are not being supported in the vital role they play for both their communities and society at large. Almost all carers questioned agreed a life of their own would be achievable if they received breaks, a decent income and were given support in times of crisis.

Carers UK Chief Executive Imelda Redmond CBE said "Carers Week celebrates the massive contribution made by the 6 million carers in our country. However we know that without the right practical and financial support, carers can end up caring 24/7, with no time for a break or lives of their own - things most people take for granted. This can take a massive toll on carers' mental and physical health, relationships and life chances. Now is the time to recognise all that carers do, and, in this difficult financial climate, fight to ensure that carers get the support they need, to allow them to live their own lives alongside caring for loved ones."

Carers UK have welcomed the recognition of Carers Week by Care Services Minister Paul Burstow MP, who appeared with Carers UK's Director of Policy and Public Affairs Emily Holzhausen on GMTV. The Minister paid tribute to the contribution carers make and talked about how important it is for carers to have a life of their own alongside caring.

Carers Week is organised by 7 national charities: Carers UK, Counsel and Care, Crossroads Care, Help the Hospices, Macmillan Cancer Support, Parkinson's UK and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. The week campaigns for greater recognition and support for the UK's six million carers, and celebrates the contribution carers make to society. The charities are calling for major changes to help give carers a life of their own.

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