Let’s not forget our ‘quiet heroes’ on Carers Rights Day

Dr Nik Johnson

Dr Nik Johnson - Credit: Archant

Labour’s mayoral candidate for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, is urging people to remember society’s “quiet heroes” today (Nov 26) on Carers Rights Day.

Cambridgeshire’s army of unpaid carers have had a particularly challenging time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many have been caring for more hours without access to their usual help and support from local services, or friends and families.

Carers Rights Day sees people and organisations coming together to help unpaid carers understand their rights and learn how to access support.

Dr Nik Johnson, a paediatrician at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, said: “It is vital that unpaid carers are recognised and supported. These people are society’s quiet heroes - working tirelessly for long hours a week caring for loved ones.

“Unpaid carers have played a vital role during the Covid pandemic. But there is a danger that they become isolated and cut off from support networks. Too many of them are unaware of the help and support available and the rights they have. The aim of Carers Rights Day is to support to carers and provide information on how they can access vital advice and support.”

In a survey of 6,000 unpaid carers, almost 80 per cent claimed the needs of the person they cared for had increased during the pandemic.

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Two thirds (67 per cent) worried about how they would cope through further lockdowns or local restrictions and more than 60,000 people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough identify as carers.

Over the past 10 years, there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of people reporting caring responsibilities.

According to official figures, about 5,000 people under the age of 25 provide unpaid care for relatives, but most agree the real figure is much higher.

Hundreds of these people provide 50 hours of care or more a week - and a growing number are under the age of 16.

The percentage of the population providing unpaid care is highest in Fenland (11.1 per cent ); this being the only district in Cambridgeshire with a higher percentage than the national average.

Father-of-three Dr Johnson, district councillor for St Neots East, said: “Whether you are a new carer or have been caring for someone for a while it’s important that you understand your rights and are able to access the support that is available to you as soon as you need it.

“Many people are taking on more caring responsibilities for their relatives and friends who are disabled, ill or older and who need support.

“Carers Rights Day helps us ensure carers are aware of their rights.”

A detailed advice page for all unpaid carers on the regulations and how to care safely and access support during the COVID-19 pandemic – www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/coronavirus-covid-19.

*An email advice line (advice@carersuk.org) and a phone line (0808 808 7777) for unpaid carers.

*An annual Looking After Someone guide, that outlines carers rights and the practical and financial support available – www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/get-resources/looking-after-someone.

*There is also an online forum run by carers, for carers, full of tips and information where carers have been supporting each other.

*Carers UK has produced a local directory for carers, with details of local carers organisations and local authority support.

To find out more about Carers UK’s support services, visit: www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/talk-to-us.

*If you are caring for someone and want to know more about your rights, or simply want to find out more information, please visit: www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/get-resources/looking-after-someone.