FatFace in Collaboration with Carers UK
Research undertaken by Carers UK in 2020 has suggested there may be up to 13.6 million unpaid carers in the UK. And 4.5 million of those have become carers since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, needing to care for someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill.
Many don’t know how or where to get help, which can be frightening and very lonely. They are stretched to their limit, juggling care with work and family life, or their own poor health. Many carers find it difficult to make ends meet if they’re unable to work or have had to cut their hours down to provide the care their loved ones need.
But carers hold families together, enable loved ones to get the most out of life, and make an enormous contribution to society – saving the economy billions of pounds.
Looking after someone can be tough, but you’re not on your own.
As the UK’s leading national carers charity, Carers UK is here to listen, to give you expert information and advice that’s tailored to your situation, to champion your rights, and support you in finding new ways to manage at home, at work, or wherever you are.
Carers UK are committed to change:
They connect carers with each other, so no-one has to care alone, ensuring they get the right support from the start.
They campaign for lasting change and will keep campaigning until everyone can look after their loved ones without putting their lives on hold.
They innovate to find new ways to reach and support carers, working with local authorities and other organisations to improve services for carers throughout the UK.
To help support this wonderful charity, we set a goal to raise £20,000 from the profits of our face coverings. We are proud to say that we reached that goal and the money has gone straight to Carers UK, so that they can continue to provide expert information, support and advice to those who need it.
A CARER'S LOCKDOWN STORY
Carers UK volunteer Anne Barnes shares her story of caring for her son during lockdown.
Tell us about your caring role
I have been a carer for my son since his birth. He has a rare condition called Pontocerebellar Hypoplasia type 2 and is unable to care for himself in nearly every way. He is a great lad, happy and charming, and even though he can’t talk to you, he can make himself understood... and he is very cheeky!
How has caring impacted your life?
Being a carer to my son, and also previously to his sister who passed away in 1996, meant that I felt I needed to give up my career as a teacher. Over the years, I have channelled my need to “teach” into various voluntary roles, mainly supporting other parent carers.
What has lockdown been like for you and your family?
For the first month of lockdown, it was just me, my son and my husband self-isolating. My son requires 24/7 care, so my caring demands increased hugely. His specialist college closed, the respite unit he attends three nights a month shut, and his two personal assistants stopped coming due to infection risks.
There have been some positives during lockdown. Having online video consultation with health professions has been great, as have the virtual tours of museums and other places of interest that would normally be inaccessible to my son. I hope that some of these aspects remain as they make our life simpler.
What has helped you cope during this difficult time?
Having a great support network of other parent carers that I’ve met over the last 20 years through groups and courses has made a difference. We all stay in touch and have had a few lively Zoom get-togethers that have cheered me up, as we all understand the issues we are facing.
Do you think lockdown has shifted the public’s perception of caring?
I really hope that it has. The experience of most ordinary families during lockdown has so many parallels with the everyday life of disabled people and carers. I have heard some people complain that they can’t go out for the day as there are no toilets open… welcome to our world! Unless a venue has a Changing Places facility, our family has never been able to go out for the day, even before coronavirus.
What would you say to carers who are struggling at the moment?
Reach out to your local carers’ centre, or to an online carers’ forum such as the one run by Carers UK. Being heard and understood by others in a similar situation really helps when you are feeling isolated. Try to look for the small positives – my son and I have been gardening, cooking and crafting together, things that we had limited time for before, and it has brought us even closer.