Recognising and Supporting Carers

Recognising and Supporting Carers

Thousands of unpaid family carers in the West Midlands could be missing out on vital payments and support as cost-of-living crisis bites

This week (5 to 11 June) is Carers Week and Crossroads Caring for Carers is warning that many unpaid family carers in the area could be missing out on vital support and financial payments as the cost-of-living soars.

The theme of Carers Week this year is “recognising and supporting carers in the community”. It aims to make sure unpaid carers – anyone looking after a family member or friend who could not cope without their support because of an illness, disability or addiction – get the information and help they need.

However, many people do not identify themselves as an unpaid carer, meaning they could be locked out of vital payments like Carer’s Allowance and access to much-needed respite from their caring role.

Carers Week comes amid a cost-of-living crisis that is badly hitting unpaid carers. Due to a creaking social care system that has left them with ever greater responsibilities, many unpaid carers were already struggling before the current rise in prices and bills.

A survey of 2,675 unpaid carers by national charity Carers Trust showed one in seven (14%) unpaid carers have needed to use a food bank. Nearly two-thirds (64%) had either been forced to give up work completely or reduce their paid hours because of their caring role, plunging them further into financial hardship.

Crossroads is urging unpaid carers to:

· Contact them for support, advice, peer group meetings and tips on getting respite.

· Ask the council/local authority for a carer’s assessment which looks at the support you need. This could include regular respite and carer breaks.

· See if you can apply for Carer’s Allowance, which is the main benefit for unpaid carers at £76.75 a week. You may be eligible if you spend at least 35 hours a week caring, don’t earn more than £139 per week and the person you care for receives a disability benefit. You don’t have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for.

Check out what Crossroads will be doing this Carers Week to help raise awareness of the support we can provide unpaid carers across Sandwell, Birmingham and the Black Country.