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Northern Ireland’s unpaid carers twice as anxious as general public

10 June 2019

Unpaid carers in Northern Ireland looking after loved ones living with an illness, disability, mental health condition or as they grow older report being twice as anxious as the Northern Irish general public, new figures show.

Research released for Carers Week 2019 (10th – 16th June) also reveals carers in Northern Ireland are a third (35 per cent) less satisfied with life compared with the rest of the Northern Irish population.

The extent of poor wellbeing amongst carers in Northern Ireland is revealed as new estimates suggest there could be more people caring unpaid than previously thought. There are a potential 8.8 million adult carers in the UK and nearly 300,000 (272,460) in Northern Ireland - an increase of eight per cent.

With one in five adults in Northern Ireland now providing unpaid care, charities have come together to highlight the urgent need to improve wellbeing among carers, who all too often put their needs second.

Clare-Anne Magee, Head of Carers NI, said:

“With as many as one in five adults in Northern Ireland now taking on an unpaid caring role it is high time our society recognises and values the crucial support they provide.

“Many unpaid carers struggle alone without support. If we are to combat the loneliness epidemic facing them it is imperative that everyone – Government, employers, health and care professionals, schools and universities, and each of us individually – plays a role putting carers in touch with practical and financial help.

“Carers need to feel they are valued, understood and connected to their community.”

The research comes from a UK survey of people providing substantial care, the majority of whom provide over 50 hours of care for a loved one each week.

Not having enough time, or money, to participate in leisure activities, as well as the stigma of being a carer, means one in three unpaid carers in Northern Ireland (31 per cent) are always or often lonely, compared with just one in twenty (five per cent) of the of the general population.[1] This makes them six times more likely to say they are always or often lonely compared with the general population.

The findings show how financial and practical support can help improve the wellbeing of Northern Ireland’s 272,000 unpaid carers and get them better connected to their communities.

The charities calling for a step change in the way society values and supports unpaid carers, and supporting Carers Week 2019, are Carers NI – part of Carers UK, Age UK, Carers Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, MS Society, Rethink Mental Illness and Sense.

 

 

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