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Lack of support and community awareness damaging life chances of UK’s carers, says Carers UK

Lack of support and community awareness damaging life chances of UK’s carers, says Carers UK
The life chances of many of the unpaid 6.5 million carers in the UK are being damaged by inadequate support from local services, according to new research launched today by Carers UK.

The research found that carers looking after a disabled, older or ill family member or friend in the UK, face a lack of understanding about their caring role from the overall community which can negatively impact on their health, wellbeing, relationships and finances. 
 
The new study revealed that 74% of carers with some of the most intensive caring responsibilities say their community does not understand or value their role.

This lack of understanding is resulting in high numbers of carers struggling to balance other areas of their lives alongside caring. 
 
Carers UK found that mixed support from local services means the majority of carers are facing barriers to maintaining their health, balancing work and care, and balancing education and care, which is having a markedly negatively impact on their life chances.

Over half of carers have let a health problem go untreated and half of carers surveyed have seen a deterioration in their mental health.

66% of carers have given up work or reduced their hours to care which has led to almost half struggling with their finances. 

Another worrying statistic from the survey revealed that almost one third of carers only get help when there is an emergency situation.
 
The research showed that when carers are supported by their community, they face far fewer barriers to having a life outside of their caring role and are three times more likely to be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as relationships with close friends and family. 

A lack of support means carers are more than twice as likely to never be able to balance work and education with care.
 
Emily Holzhausen, who leads the Carers Week partnership, said: “Carers have told us that it makes a huge difference to their lives when they are supported by their local services and communities; whether that’s being offered a flexible appointment to see their GP, having flexible working policies from their employers, or their school raising awareness of caring and disability. 
 
“Despite this, the majority of carers told us that their local community was not supportive of their caring role, which in turn is having a significant and negatively impact on their life chances. 
 
“This report comes at an opportune moment, with a new Carers’ Strategy in development in England, and new governments forming across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We’re calling on individuals, organisations and governments to think about what they can do to improve the lives of carers in their community.”
 
The seven charities driving Carers Week are calling for adequate funding for social care support to be prioritised by newly elected Governments and Assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and by the UK Government. 
 
Carers Week is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Motor Neurone Disease Association and MS Society. 

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