Local communities rely on the commitment and compassion of unpaid carers to carry on, despite the challenges they face on a daily basis. They are the backbone of our society and often go unrecognised. Earlier this year we announced the launch of a UK-wide research project which focused on identifying gaps in support and sought to understand the views of unpaid carers – involving them in a structured exercise to help determine their education and training needs. I am delighted that we published the report findings yesterday.
The research brings into sharp focus those issues that are placing increased pressure on unpaid carers. For example, loneliness, poor mental health, financial worries and a lack of flexibility to learn and train. We have outlined five recommendations which aim to encourage the Government, third and private sectors to develop a renewed vision and package of support for unpaid carers.
YouGov, whom we commissioned to deliver the research, identified several key challenges which informed the development of our recommendations.
Our research and recommendations add to the existing evidence base about improving the lives of unpaid carers. We hope that our report reinforces the messages made by other organisations and carers themselves about the urgent need for more support. Our recommendations are intended to complement the policy proposals made by organisations working in this area, such as Carers UK, Carers Trust, Age UK, Independent Age and coalitions like the Care & Support Alliance and National Voices. It is not solely the duty of Government to deal with all of the issues that have been identified in our research report – responsibility needs to be shared more widely. As we head towards Carers Week, we are calling on the Government, local authorities, employers and the public to share one way they can make a difference to the lives of unpaid carers. It could be that an employer offers some form of flexibility to their employees who have caring responsibilities, or a local authority offers to set up a peer support group for carers. One small act of kindness goes a long way. Let’s come together as a society and do something positive for these unsung heroes who deserve greater recognition and support for their commitment to others.