Loneliness in unpaid carers is seven times higher than in the general public, according to new figures released for Carers Week. Not having enough time or money to participate in leisure activities, as well as the stigma of being a carer, means one in three unpaid carers (35%) are always or often lonely, compared with just 5% of the general population.
Research also reveals unpaid carers feel what they do in life is significantly less worthwhile compared with the rest of the population, with those struggling financially over a third less likely to feel that the things they do in their life are worthwhile. This is despite the vital support carers provide their loved ones and their enormous contribution to society.
Evidence shows those worst affected by loneliness are parent carers looking after disabled children under 18 years old, being nearly ten times lonelier than the general public.
Unpaid carers report being twice as anxious as the general public, and those struggling financially or going without practical support with caring are half as satisfied with life as the rest of the population.
Seven charities are calling for unpaid carers to be at the heart of much-needed reforms to the funding of social care and for carers to be better supported financially. They are Carers UK, Age UK, Carers Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, MS Society, Rethink Mental Illness and Sense.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said, 'With as many as one in six adults in the UK now taking on an unpaid caring role it is high time our society recognises and values the crucial support they provide.
'Many unpaid carers struggle alone without support. If we are to combat the loneliness epidemic facing them it is imperative that everyone – Government, employers, health and care professionals, schools and universities, and each of us individually – plays a role putting carers in touch with practical and financial help.
'Carers need to feel they are valued, understood and connected to their community.'
The research into loneliness in unpaid carers, Getting Carers Connected comes from a survey of carers, the majority of whom provide over 50 hours of care for a loved one each week.