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New Carers UK chief executive calls for new vision: care "must become everybody's business"

31 January 2012

Heléna Herklots calls for new vision to tackle care crisis

New Carers UK Chief Executive Heléna Herklots has described 2012 as a ‘crucial year’ for the 6.4 million people caring for ill, older and disabled relatives.

As local authority social care cuts continue to bite and the Government presses ahead with plans for substantial cuts to disability benefits the charity argues that it is time for a broader debate about how society supports older and disabled people and their families. 

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK said: 

“With two million people becoming carers every year, caring is something every family will experience at some point. As life expectancy rises and people live longer with disabilities and long-term conditions we must all come to terms with a growing care challenge.   

“The numbers are staggering. Every day, 6,300 people become carers, or 44,000 per week. The majority will not get the right information and advice that they need. Many will go on to provide more substantial care and will be at risk of losing paid work, and will face ill-health, poverty and financial hardship as a result of caring. Wherever we live in the UK, we need strong decisive action from our Governments to ensure that we change this situation.

“Employers that we work with like BT plc, Centrica plc and Sainsbury’s plc say they lose valuable staff who can no longer juggle work and care because there is simply not enough advice and information and the right support.  

“With new cross-party talks on the future of social care in England and a forthcoming White Paper, this year is a crucial time to make a real difference for hundreds of thousands of families. We also need a system of financial support which prevents carers from falling into poverty and hardship and recognises the enormous contribution that carers make to society.   

“We need a robust, independent information and advice system; public services that support and understand the carers’ role; more employers helping carers to balance care and work and the right financial and health support when needed. This is why it’s “everybody’s business” and when these things come together, families who provide care are supported.

Caring touches all parts of our society – carers looking after loved ones; employers supporting employees with caring responsibilities; public services coping with growing demand and stretched resources; disabled people trying to live independently and families approaching retirement and planning for their own future and their older parents’.

She added, “Families are struggling to cope with the consequences of a care system in crisis, and there is the real risk of wider social and economic costs if we do not act. It is time we all engaged in the debate on how we support older and disabled people and their families, and agree decisive action to build a care system fit for the 21st century.”

Heléna Herklots moves to Carers UK from her post as Services Director at Age UK. Formerly Head of Policy at Age Concern England, she has worked with and for older people for over 20 years in a range of service development and provision, policy and strategy roles.


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1. Carers UK is a charity set up to support the millions of people who care for an elderly relative, a sick partner or a disabled family         member. Carers UK:

  • supports carers and provides information and advice about caring
  • influences policy through our research based
  • campaigns to make life better for carers.

2. Heléna Herklots took over as Carers UK Chief Executive on 1st February 2012 and replaces Imelda Redmond CBE, who left Carers UK after 12 years to take up the new post of Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Marie Curie Cancer Care.





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