n 2012, Crossroads Care and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers merged to become Carers Trust, which is now the largest charity for carers.

But the Crossroads Care story began long before that — founded in 1974 it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and has come a long way in that time.
 
Crossroads, the former television soap opera from which Crossroads Care derives its name, first appeared on our screens in 1964. The show saw one of its lead characters become a wheelchair user cared for by his mother. This struck a chord with viewer Noel Crane who contacted producer Reg Watson and a friendship was formed. The plight of disabled people and their family carers was recognised and, as a result, Noel’s situation was dramatised as part of the storyline.
 
Money donated by the show’s production company ATV was used to set up a small scheme in Rugby in 1974 with five care attendants – and Crossroads Care was born. That was the start of a movement that became nationwide and that by the year 2000 ran 250 services.
 
Today Carers Trust works with a series of Network Partners, comprised of the services from both Crossroads Care and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. They form a unique network of 116 independent carers centres, 55 Crossroads Care schemes and 99 young carers services. Their objective is to provide information, advice and practical support for all carers across the UK.
 
Carers Trust provides a range of support such as short breaks, small grants to buy essential items and advice and support. It also provides a series of guides to help carers, families and people with care needs to know what to look out for when buying a care package.
 
Penny Collard, chief executive of Crossroads Care Coventry and Warwickshire, who is responsible for the area where the first scheme was set up said: “There are seven million carers in the UK. That’s one in 10 people. Three in five people will become a carer at some point in their lives, yet still carers do not recognise themselves as a carer or simply do not know who to go to for help.
 
“There are services across the UK that are providing a range of help such as support groups, advice and short breaks and we want to reach this hidden army before they reach breaking point.”