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Carers UK joins forces with Virgin Media to support one million unpaid carers

24 February 2021
  • Virgin Media and Carers UK are beginning a five year strategic partnership which will use technology and innovation to address the loneliness experienced by eight in ten unpaid carers

Carers UK is today entering into a new five year strategic partnership with the telecommunications company Virgin Media, which aims to create meaningful connections for one million unpaid carers across the UK.

Carers UK and Virgin Media will use technology and innovation to address the loneliness experienced by eight in ten unpaid carers in the UK. Together, both organisations want to make life better for one million carers by creating connections to each other and to their communities by the end of 2025.

The £2 million strategic charity partnership forms part of Virgin Media’s new Meaningful Connections Plan which sets out the role it will play in communities across the UK.

Carers and communities

Virgin Media carried out extensive research, talking to its customers, employees and sustainability experts about how it should use its purpose, people and products to have a greater impact on communities. The most frequent themes which emerged were loneliness and community belonging.

Virgin Media’s research also revealed that more than one in five of its 5.6 million cable customers in the UK is an unpaid carer – the equivalent of around 1.2 million customers - with 58% saying they have felt lonely or isolated.  

An unpaid carer is someone who looks after a loved one, friend or neighbour who is older, disabled or seriously ill, offering practical, emotional support or hands-on care.

Virgin Media found that the issues of loneliness and isolation are exacerbated for the 6.5 million unpaid carers across the country – as they are seven times more likely to be lonely compared to non-carers.

According to Carers UK, the pandemic has compounded these issues as carers now have little or no time for themselves or the opportunity to connect with loved ones or their communities.

Connecting carers

Virgin Media and Carers UK are joining forces to help end the loneliness carers are experiencing, and will combine their expertise to connect more carers to each other and their communities, in order to create lasting positive change. 

Together, both organisations will use digital technology and innovation to support carers. This includes providing access to digital services and platforms to build support networks and friendships.

In addition, Virgin Media is helping its employees to step up to support carers by increasing the number of annual paid volunteering days to five – the equivalent of around 450,000 hours per year across its 12,000 workforce. They will be encouraged to take this time regularly - either in-person or digitally – to help out with projects designed to support carers, as well as other people, and ultimately build meaningful connections in their communities. This includes micro-volunteering opportunities which have a sustained and lasting impact. 

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“Carers UK’s new five year partnership with Virgin Media is exciting and transformative, enabling us to connect with many more unpaid carers and critically raise awareness of the issue.

“We know now more than ever millions of people are looking after someone and through this partnership we aim to reach them sooner and create better connections so that they are supported, leading to a reduction in loneliness and isolation.

“As Carers UK also embark on our new five-year strategy this partnership really underpins our ambitious plans to make life better for carers – we can’t wait to get started!”

Lutz Schüler, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Media, said:

“Our partnership with Carers UK comes at a crucial time: millions of unpaid carers are feeling isolated and lonely, and don’t have the means to access support networks.

“We believe digital technology and innovation will help to end the loneliness carers are experiencing, and together we will provide the services and platforms they need to create vital connections to each other and their communities.

“This work is a key part of Virgin Media’s new Meaningful Connections Plan – which sets out how we will use our purpose, people and products to have a positive and lasting impact on society.”

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