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The Coalition of Carers Organisations warmly welcomes the restoration of the Stormont institutions and would call for the new Assembly to prioritise the 220,000 people providing unpaid care for sick or disabled family members and friends across Northern Ireland.

Unpaid carers are a diverse population, encompassing child and young adult carers through to carers of pension age – and support people with health conditions like cancer, stroke, progressive neurological conditions and visual impairment; mental ill-health; learning disabilities; terminal illnesses, and more. Together, these carers are saving the NI Executive nearly £6 billion in care costs every year, without which the local Health and Social Care system would collapse.

This immense contribution to society comes at an enormous cost to our carers – 28% are living in poverty, one in four experience mental ill-health, fewer than two-thirds have had a break during the last year, and 50% feel lonely. For so many of our carers, life is defined by a mixture of unrelenting daily pressures, little-to-no opportunity for respite and near-impenetrable barriers to accessing support.

Recent years of political stalemate have been immensely damaging for our unpaid carers. They’ve been asked to provide more and more care, as health and social care services have deteriorated around them and the widely-supported HSC reform agenda has largely stalled.

Recommendations to improve support for carers through the benefits system – which were designed by the independent welfare review panel in 2022 and would immediately lift thousands of unpaid carers out of poverty – have gathered dust on a shelf.

Public sector pay awards have been unresolved, leading to mass industrial action which severely disrupts health, education and other services and, as a result, puts even more pressure on the shoulders of unpaid carers to cover the gaps.

Restoration of the Assembly and Executive provides a crucial opportunity to begin addressing these issues and deliver reform and investment in the health, social care, welfare, education and other services that carers need.

Our unpaid carers turn up every day to provide around-the-clock support for their family members, friends and neighbours. We hope our restored political institutions can now start turning up for them.


The Coalition of Carers Organisations NI is a collective of community and voluntary sector groups and trade unions that support and advocate for unpaid carers in Northern Ireland. The Coalition is chaired by Carers NI and has the following members:

  • Carers NI
  • Action for Children
  • Action Mental Health
  • Age NI
  • Alzheimer's Society
  • Angel Eyes
  • Barnardo's
  • Brain Injury Matters
  • Huntington’s Disease Association NI
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Marie Curie
  • Mencap
  • MND Association
  • MS Society
  • Parent Action
  • Parkinson's UK NI
  • Stroke Association
  • Women's Support Network
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