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Norman's story

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After caring for his disabled wife Ros for years unaided, unaware of his rights or where to access advice Norman found practical help from Carers UK and emotional support from the people he met through it.

Norman's wife, Ros, was diagnosed with secondary progressive Multiple Sclerosis at 38. Holding down a job, caring for Ros and worrying about care costs took a heavy toll on Norman. In 2008 he had a physical and mental collapse. Then, after Ros had an accident, Norman was forced to give up work entirely and the couple lost their home.

Norman shares his story:

"At one stage we were forking out £2,000 a month so that I could go to work. So I then took a second mortage on the house. You are then still faced with financial difficulties on a daily basis. And then you slip into arrears on something and you get constant phone calls. It feels like you're in a huge pressure cooker that you're living in and there doesn't seem to be anyway to ease that pressure. To end up with nothing, it's just shattering. I felt an absolute failure.

A real turning point was calling the Carers UK Adviceline. I spoke to a lady for an hour, she listened, she said there were things I could do, just to know I wasn't alone. I felt I was failing at caring, but you realise the vast majority of people struggle to make it work, especially when they are trying to do it on their own.

One of the things that comes as a shock is the way networks disappear, friends and colleague. Carers UK gives advice, like how to set up a self-help group, which we've done. We share information. Had I learned from Carers UK at the beginning what I know now, mine and Ros' lives would have been quite different."

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