This Carers Rights Day, Carers UK is trying to raise awareness of caring in order to identify carers to help them receive support.
Research from Carers UK has found that the general public drastically underestimates the number of carers in their own family, friendship groups and places of work. More than half (51%) of the people it surveyed believe they don’t know a single family member or friend who cares, whilst 3 in 5 workers (62%) believe they don’t know ‘any work colleagues’ who help look after a loved one.
In reality, 1 in 10 (10%) people in the UK are carers and 1 in 9 people in the workforce are juggling their paid job with unpaid caring.
The findings come one year after Carers UK’s Missing Out report showed the impact of carers not being identified quickly enough. Amongst carers who ‘struggled’ to recognise their roles, more than half saw their finances (52%) and mental health (78%) negatively affected as a result.
Alarmingly, of those members of the public who did manage to recognise that a friend or family member looked after someone, as many as 3 in 5 (58%) did not ‘suggest where to find further information on caring’ and the number rose to 65% of those who knew carers in the workplace.
Of all those polled, including those that had not recognised carers in their social circles or at work, two thirds (67%) said they would feel confident providing ‘emotional support’ to a new carer. Yet, only 2 in 5 (42%) would feel confident pointing people in the direction of information about caring.
Carers UK is asking the public to equip themselves with more knowledge and understanding of how to support carers, to improve confidence in reaching out to carers. It is also urging human resources staff and decision-makers to act to raise the profile of working carers and make it easier for them to access support both in and outside the workplace, including efforts to:
- Publicise policies such as flexible working and care leave to create a culture of inclusion and support for carers, which helps retain talent.
- Increase visibility of carers issues by signposting to existing carer-friendly policies and setting up channels, such as a forum or network, for carers to make their voices heard.
- Engage with forums like Employers for Carers in order to benefit from practical resources and support for HR and line managers and dedicated information about caring for employees.