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Unpaid carers have provided increasing amounts of care to their loved ones since the start of the pandemic and they are doing so with fewer services available to support them.

Carers Rights Day on Thursday 25th November is raising awareness of these issues and more, and ensuring that unpaid carers are aware of the rights they have and know where they can get help and support.

A recent survey of nearly 6,000 unpaid carers in the UK, carried out by Carers UK, showed that four in five unpaid carers are providing more care to relatives and friends. 78% reported that the needs of the person they care for have increased during the pandemic.

In addition, many services such as respite breaks at care homes, after-school activities for disabled children and sitting services now have restricted access. Many unpaid carers are also choosing not to use them while Covid is still a concern.

Judy Walker, Chief Executive at Carer Support Wiltshire said:

“Every year Carers Rights Day brings organisations together to make unpaid carers aware of what is available for them. Unpaid carers’ support nationally has been valued at a staggering £530 million per day during the pandemic, or £193 billion a year. Carers give that support to their loved ones selflessly, and often behind closed doors. They deserve recognition for what they do and all of the support we can give them.

“Often the first step to getting support is someone recognising that they are an unpaid carer. Among the rights that carers have and should expect to receive are the right to be consulted on the hospital discharge of the person they care for, to discuss flexible working options and protection from discrimination.”

Carer Support Wiltshire are available to help navigate unpaid carers through everything that is available to them. A one-to-one conversation with a member of the support team is there to assess someone’s circumstances and make suggestions on what may help. The charity also offers a Here to Talk befriending service, free counselling sessions and a Facebook group for peer-to-peer support.

Nigel cares for his wife Margaret, who has Parkinson’s and was diagnosed with cancer last year. He said:

“Margaret just came out of hospital 3 weeks ago and, at the moment, I’m on call helping her between 5am and 10pm. It’s incredibly hard work. Carer Support Wiltshire carried out a carers assessment for me earlier this year and it resulted in a direct payment for 7 hours a week care for Margaret so that I can take some respite. Twice a week I try to get out for a few hours. I pop into town or up the road to the pub to meet a friend. I need that personal space for my mental wellbeing.”

If you are caring for someone and would like to speak to someone about help available to you, Carer Support Wiltshire are available during office hours on 0800 181 4118.

If you are not a carer but would like to support Carers Rights Day, you can tweet your support using the hashtag #CarersRightsDay or make a donation.