Hours of work by an estimated 78,000 unpaid carers in Suffolk are being highlighted this week as Suffolk County Council asks what support would help them most.
The 2011 Census showed that there are approximately 78,000 family or unpaid carers in Suffolk – equivalent to one in 10 people living in the county. An unpaid carer is anyone who cares for someone who cannot manage without help, because of illness, frailty, mental health need, substance misuse or disability. This could be a partner, friend, neighbour or relative.
Carers Week is a national campaign, which runs from 9 – 15 June, and aims to improve the lives of carers and the people they care for. The county council is using the opportunity to ask anyone who cares for a family member or neighbour about the types of support which would help them to better carry out their role.
In many cases, someone may not have made a conscious choice to become a carer and may not necessarily live with the person they are caring for. Caring for someone is likely to impact on many areas of their life, such as their health, relationships, work and leisure activities.
Many people who have a caring role do not think of themselves as carers either. They may, therefore, be unaware of the services and support which are available to them in their local community, such as financial assistance.
Via the MyLife website, Suffolk County Council is asking people if they recognise themselves as an unpaid carer, and if so, what would be the most important thing that could help them. It is hoped that this will help to build a more accurate picture of the number of unpaid carers in Suffolk, as well as promoting the view that the health and wellbeing of carers is as important as the person they are caring for.
Councillor Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member responsible for health, said: “Carers Week is an opportunity to recognise the hard work of those who care for the most vulnerable people in our communities, whether in a paid or unpaid capacity.
“This year we are focusing particularly on the thousands of people across Suffolk who care for a loved one or neighbour without being paid. We want to make people aware that they don’t have to do this alone and that there is support and advice available to them.”
If you are caring for someone and would like to find out more, please visit the MyLife website: www.suffolk.gov.uk/mylife