The last Census (2011) found that there were 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK, however recent polling earlier this year by Carers UK suggested this figure to be closer to 9.1 million.
Shockingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, this figure has grown by an additional 4.5 million because of the impact of coronavirus on unpaid carers meaning it is now estimated that as many as 13.6 million people in the UK are unpaid carers, looking after loved ones who are older, disabled or seriously ill.
What is even more staggering, is that almost two thirds (62%) of those who have become an unpaid carer since the pandemic are juggling caring responsibilities alongside their own paid employment.
Now impacting the lives of an estimated 1 in 4 people in the UK, the awareness of the challenges faced by unpaid carers is growing, but more is still required.
This year’s theme was ‘Making Caring Visible’, with thousands of individuals, groups and organisations doing their bit to celebrate unpaid carers, reach out to carers and generally make caring visible to all virtually this year.
Carers Week, a collaboration between six charities, led by Carers UK, the national membership charity for unpaid carers, aims to shine a light on those challenges.”
As part of Carers Week, Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland announced a 12-month partnership with Carers UK, which will continue to help make life better for unpaid carers by raising awareness of caring across the UK.
“Rotary’s active membership and network of 1,700 clubs across the country will enable us to reach many more carers at this crucial time, and beyond” says Carers UK Chief Executive, Helen Walker.
“We are really excited to be developing and delivering a year of activity with Rotary, an organisation dedicated to tackling some of society’s biggest issues at a local and national level.”
As part of the partnership a volunteering opportunity for Rotary members will be developed, a Rotary GB&I Carers UK Ambassador. By becoming a Rotary GB&I Carers UK Ambassador, Rotary members will be able to raise awareness of caring and Carers UK within their communities and connect carers with information, advice and support provided by Carers UK.
We are really excited to be developing and delivering a year of activity with Rotary, an organisation dedicated to tackling some of society’s biggest issues at a local and national level.”
Amanda Watkin, General Secretary of Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland added: “At Rotary we are focused on two principles: making a difference and making connections.
“It is so important to recognise the contribution millions of unpaid carers make in society, and raise awareness of the sacrifices they make and challenges they face. We are proud to be pledging our support.”
Practical support for carers is something which Rotary clubs up and down the country have long been providing in their communities.
When the town’s dementia support café closed its doors due to lack of local government funding, Kettering Rotary Club was determined not to let this vital service disappear for good.
They agreed to set up and sponsor a new Memory Café in the town, which launched in 2018, with funding provided solely from money raised locally from club activities.
The café helps not only people living with dementia, but also their carers, who accompany them to regular social and supportive get togethers. Caring for a loved one with dementia can be a challenging and isolating experience, so ensuring they also receive the support they need has been a huge focus for the café team.
Rotary members Yvonne Robinson and Dennis Bowden have been instrumental in getting the café operational, with the help of other volunteers and Northamptonshire Carers Association.
If you, or someone you know, are an unpaid carer in need of support, visit the Carers UK website at www.carersuk.org.
If you are a Rotary member keen to become a Rotary GB&I Carers UK Ambassador, let us know by emailing Rotarian Cheryle Berry on firstname.lastname@example.org