Carers Trust’s Executive Director of Programmes and Impact, Rohati Chapman, has written a blog to accompany our annual Impact Report, published today. She reflects on the power and benefits of working as a network to help support unpaid carers when ‘the going got tough during the pandemic’.
When I joined Carers Trust during the pandemic, I knew it would be a baptism of fire. Almost every charity professional I knew was utterly exhausted, yet fuelled by a sense of social purpose – the cleanest energy you can get.
With the NHS at breaking point and local care services shut because of the lockdown, society came to rely on unpaid family carers more than ever. Carers Trust and its Network Partners, who are local carer organisations, flexed every known resource to continue to provide quality services and support for these unpaid carers who were now having to take on ever greater caring responsibilities at home.
Here at Carers Trust, this was the headspace we were all in as we developed our latest Impact Report. So, from our perspective as the only UK infrastructure organisation supporting both unpaid carers and carer organisations, what really mattered this year?
First and foremost, I think Carers Trust’s 2021 Impact Report really illustrates the power of a national network when the ‘going gets tough’. We helped our Network Partners across the UK stay connected when their line of vision was firmly on supporting their local carers. And we secured additional funding and resources to support an emergency COVID response. This included distributing over 300,000 pieces of free PPE for unpaid carers.
During this extraordinary year, the breadth and depth of our collective social impact has been nothing short of impressive. Here are just a few examples.
Extending support for unpaid carers
Our Network now reaches 858,286 unpaid carers, from the Shetland Isles to the tip of Cornwall and across Wales. This is 81% of England, Scotland, and Wales (a 5% increase since last year). Carers Trust serves as a backbone to the Network, distributing over £4.3m of grant funding efficiently and effectively to Network Partners and individual carers in crisis.
And we have seen a surge in younger carers seeking our support. Our Network now supports over 54,000 young and young adult carers (a 68% increase since last year), making us the ‘go to’ national Network supporting this age group of carers.
Improving access for underrepresented carers
Over the pandemic, we have all been reflecting on race-based structural inequality. This includes who gets to access and benefit from services. Since the pandemic, there has been a 13% increase in the number of minority ethnic carers supported by our Network. For the first time, the Carers Trust Network is now supporting the same proportion of unpaid carers from minority ethnic communities as is found across society as a whole. This is significant progress, which we will build on through our Making Carers Count programme, delivered in partnership with carer organisations.
Improving carer wellbeing
And finally, let’s remember that impact is not just about doing more things with more people over a wider area. Just as important are the deeper positive outcomes our programmatic work is securing for unpaid carers. Here are just some of the positive outcomes our work has secured for unpaid carers over the last year:
- 70% of unpaid carers at most risk of loneliness said they felt happier because of participating in our Connecting Communities, Connected Carers programme
- In a Carers Trust survey, 79% of unpaid carers said their quality of life had improved after accessing local Network Partner services
- 87% of carers surveyed in our Working for Carers programme, said they had improved confidence.
As we turn the page and develop our new strategic plan for 2022-25, we will be redoubling our resolve to secure and better articulate our collective social impact. To make that a reality, we will continue to both champion the power of our Carers Trust Network, and to put unpaid carers first.
Visit our website to read the Carers Trust’s annual Impact Report 2020-2021 in either English or Welsh. You can also watch two short videos highlighting the difference we have made for unpaid carers in 2020-2021.