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50 years of caring for carers

This year we mark 50 years since our founder charity was established - inspired by a storyline in the soap opera Crossroads - and our growth into a network of more than 120 local carer organisations, who now support nearly one million unpaid carers across the UK.

“Our 50th anniversary allows us to take stock of how far we’ve come from the plotline of a TV show to working with a network of support organisations that spans the UK. However, we’re all too aware there’s far more to be done to transform the lives of unpaid carers. From lobbying for better financial support and the provision of respite breaks to facilitating grants for necessities during the cost-of-living crisis, our work is needed more than ever.

As our unusual history shows, Carers Trust is a charity that has always evolved to meet the challenges faced by millions of people who look after sick and disabled loved ones. We will continue to innovate to meet the challenges faced by unpaid carers and we will be here for as long as they need us.”

- Kirsty McHugh, Carers Trust CEO 

Our roots: from Crossroads storyline to UK-wide carer support

Back in the 1970s, the hit TV show Crossroads centred on the Crossroads Motel and starred Noele Gordon, recently portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter in ITV drama Nolly, as the motel owner Meg. 

In 1973, the show saw Meg’s son Sandy, played by Roger Tonge, left paralysed after a car crash. Meg’s life was turned upside down when she had to stay at home to care for him and she eventually set up a fictional “Caring for Carers” scheme which led to a stream of mail from viewers asking about it.

The storyline prompted Noel Crane, a disabled man from Rugby who was being cared for at home by his mother, to write to the programme makers. He complimented them on the realistic portrayal of the needs of disabled people and those caring unpaid for them.

ATV took him on as an adviser on disability issues and then donated £10,000 to set up a pilot project in Rugby that aimed to provide unpaid family carers with practical support.

The resulting charity, Crossroads Care, supported 26 families and its success led to the creation of many more Crossroads Care schemes. By 2012 Crossroads Care was supporting more than 43,000 carers and their families through its network of schemes

In 2012, Crossroads Care merged with The Princess Royal Trust for Carers – founded on the initiative of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal in 1991 - to form Carers Trust. Carers Trust now works with a network of over 120 local carer organisations across the UK, supporting close to one million people.