Carers Trust distributing £247,000 in emergency grants for hundreds of forgotten family carers

  • Carers Trust seeing huge demand from unpaid family carers for its emergency grants
  • 200 applications in just 2 days to Carers Trust South East Wales
  • Carers Trust reaches more than 850 carers with emergency financial aid in two months
  • During Carers Week (8-14 June) Carers Trust calls on Government to fix UK’s broken social care system

At the start of Carers Week, Carers Trust reports it is seeing huge demand for its Carers Emergency Fund grants from unpaid carers right across the UK.

Since the launch of the Carers Emergency Fund in April, the huge demand for grants has pointed to the real hardship being experienced by this group of largely forgotten carers as a result of Coronavirus.

Carers Trust South East Wales is a Network Partner of Carers Trust. It received over 200 applications in just two days after advertising Carers Trust’s Carers Emergency Fund.

But despite the huge challenges carers are facing as a result of the pandemic, there has been little reporting in the media of this vulnerable group.

Unpaid carers often speak of feeling forgotten and invisible because of the need to provide care out of sight in their family homes. Lockdown restrictions have exacerbated this sense of isolation.

Carers Trust is the UK’s leading national organisation providing support to unpaid carers. Since the beginning of May we have significantly scaled up not just the level of emergency financial support provided to unpaid carers, but also the speed with which we are making emergency grants available.

£247,000 distributed to more than 850 unpaid carers in May and June.

From end April to 1 June 2020, Carers Trust has awarded 162 individual carers £42,368.35 in grants. A further £205,000 has been, or will be, distributed to Network Partners over May and June to support a further 700 unpaid carers (including young carers) with their urgent needs.

The grants of up to £300 each are being distributed through Carers Trust’s network of over 130 local partner services (Network Partners). Carers Trust aims to support many hundreds more carers in the coming weeks and months.

Grants can help struggling carers purchase essential household items they couldn’t otherwise afford, helping them cope with the pressures of lockdown.

The grants have been made possible thanks to our committed supporters as well as public donations received through the Carers Emergency Appeal, launched by Carers Trust in April.

How a Carers Emergency Fund grant helped Arzoo

Arzoo (name changed to protect identity) is a 37-year-old single parent.  She has two children, Bina who is 12 years old and 13-year-old Jamil.  Jamil has autism, Perthes' disease (a rare, painful condition affecting his hip joint) and an impacted bowel. Jamil needs constant personal care and attention including emotional support and help with bathing and dressing.  Arzoo also needs to manage Jamil’s challenging and sometimes violent behaviour. Arzoo has an incredibly difficult caring role which has been exacerbated by the current Covid-19 lockdown.

The family lives in a flat with no access to outside space. Arzoo has been struggling during the lockdown trying to find things for Jamil to do and managing his difficult behaviour when having to go out and shop and queue for food.  The family is surviving on benefits and faces constant financial difficulties. They have no money left once they have bought food and paid bills for even the basics like clothes or household items.

With the help of her local Carers Centre Arzoo applied for a Carers Trust grant towards a laptop.  This laptop has enabled both children to do their homework (they were previously trying to do this on a mobile phone). The laptop also means Arzoo can get her shopping done online, relieving the need for the stressful visits to the shops. It also provides an opportunity for Jamil to play computer games, something he used to enjoy at school.

Arzoo was awarded £300 to purchase a new laptop. She was delighted with the award and said that the laptop would help the whole family enormously.

Reflecting on the urgent need to give unpaid carers more support and recognition, Gareth Howells, CEO of Carers Trust, said:

“Unpaid carers really are the backbone of our society. It’s difficult to see how we could manage without them following years of under investment in social care. That policy failure has opened up a huge hole that would be larger still if it weren’t for these unsung heroes who tirelessly step into the gap left by the state – just so their family members can continue to receive the essential care they need at home.

“Already isolated and under severe financial pressure, unpaid carers have been hit harder than most by Coronavirus, with many losing what little respite support they had because of the lockdown.

“So we are working tirelessly with our local partner services to get money where it’s needed most – straight into the hands of carers so they can purchase that one thing they need to help them cope, whether it’s a new washing machine to replace the broken one, or a fridge to keep their medication in.

“But because they’ve been ignored or forgotten about for so long, the demand for help and support from carers is overwhelming and one we cannot meet alone. Therefore, the Government must step up and give carers the support they need, rather than continuing to rely on them for social care on the cheap.  

“In the short-term we need to prioritise urgent support for our unpaid carers whose vulnerability and isolation has been so cruelly exposed by the Coronavirus outbreak. And we must fix our broken social care system that puts so much pressure on millions of unpaid carers across the country. They deserve nothing less."

Why are millions of unpaid UK carers especially vulnerable to the lockdown?

Even before Coronavirus, many unpaid carers were experiencing isolation and acute financial pressure due to the need to be at home all day, providing round-the-clock care. The lockdown has made life much more difficult still for carers. Before the lockdown, many got a small amount of support through funded visits to their home by paid carers offering a respite service. This allowed family carers a few precious hours respite to meet friends and go to the shops.

But because of concerns about people coming into the home, many of these visits have had to stop – leaving hundreds of thousands of family carers struggling to care for their loved ones without any of the support they had before.

Much of that support was provided by Carers Trust’s Network Partners – over 130 local partner services supporting carers across the UK. But because of the lockdown, our Network Partners have had to shut their doors and furlough staff. This has drastically reduced the level of support they are able to offer unpaid carers, many of whom were experiencing isolation and acute financial pressures even before the pandemic struck.

Who are unpaid carers?

There are an estimated 7 million unpaid carers in the UK.

They provide care, unpaid, for family members with often complex conditions like long-term illnesses, disabilities, poor mental health and substance addictions.

Unpaid carers have always been at risk of being forgotten because the care they provide is not delivered in public, but out of sight and in the privacy of their own homes. The need to stay at home providing care makes unpaid cares especially vulnerable to isolation and financial pressures.

Coronavirus and the lockdown has made a bad situation for unpaid family carers even worse.

But this largely invisible group of carers form an indispensable part of the social fabric: the value to the state of the care they provide has been valued at £132 billion per year.

Without unpaid family carers, the pressure on social care and health care services would be far greater than it already is.

Coverage of the Coronavirus crisis has focused extensively on the vulnerability of paid carer workers working bravely in the care home sector.

But the disproportionate impact of Coronavirus on millions of unpaid family carers across the UK has gone largely unreported.

ENDS

Notes to editor:

Expert spokespeople from Carers Trust, and case-studies, are available for interview on request.

For further information, and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Matt Whitticase on mwhitticase@carers.org and 07824 539481.

Carers Trust is a major charity for, with and about carers. We work to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems.  

We do this with a UK wide network of quality assured independent partners and through the provision of grants to help carers get the extra help they need to live their own lives. With locally based Network Partners we are able to support carers in their homes through the provision of replacement care, and in the community with information, advice, emotional support, hands on practical help and access to much needed breaks. We offer specialist services for carers of people of all ages and conditions and a range of individual tailored support and group activities.

Our vision is that unpaid carers count and can access the help they need to live their lives.

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Topics

Coronavirus / Health / Network Partners / Our funders / UK

 

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