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Breaking Point: Survey exposes the struggles of Unpaid Carers in Leeds.

Added: 07/06/2024

Carers Leeds

Key stats 

  • The top three concerns for unpaid carers in Leeds right now are: my own health and wellbeing; the changing needs of the person I care for and money and the cost of living. 
  • 56% of unpaid carers reported than caring had a negative impact on their physical health, 70% reported it had a negative impact on their mental health. 
  • 55% of unpaid carers said they had given up opportunities at work because of caring. 
  • 38% of unpaid carers were always or mostly missing out on time for themselves or a break. 
  • 32% of unpaid carers reported feeling often or always lonely.  
  • Unpaid carers have gone without essentials such as keeping their home warm (21%) and skipping meals (20%). 

This week (10 to 16 June) is Carers Week and Carers Leeds, a charity which provides information, advice and support to unpaid carers in Leeds, are sharing the findings of their annual survey of unpaid adult and parent carers across the city.  

An unpaid carer is someone who provides help and support to a family member, friend or neighbour who couldn’t manage without their help. This could be due to illness, disability, mental health problems or substance misuse. 

679 unpaid carers responded to the survey, which asked them what they were most concerned about, their experiences as an unpaid carer and what matters most to them.  

This report tells the true story of what it means to provide unpaid care in Leeds. Too many unpaid carers are feeling invisible and undervalued, and many are living in circumstances which are leaving them at breaking point. The findings of this year’s survey bring to the fore stubborn issues which are difficult to change, and the things we must pay most attention to, if we are really to make a difference to the lives of unpaid carers. These include carers’ own health and wellbeing, carer poverty, support for their caring role and to take a break from caring.  

These issues are made worse by the squeeze on public finances and the impact on health and care services that carers, as well as the people their care for, rely on. Also, by a benefits system which is in desperate needs for reform, when it comes to carers. The Carers Allowance scandal, which has recently hit the headlines, highlights the inadequacy and unfairness of this benefit coupled with the punitive treatment of a group of people who made an enormous contribution to society.    

Recommendations 

The theme of this year’s Carers Week is ‘Putting Carers on the Map’. We have five recommendations are based on the findings of the survey:  

  • Public sector funding cuts – Include unpaid carers in equality impact assessments used to inform decisions to fund or cut health and care services, so that the risk of dis-investment – increased costs and demand for services (from the carer and the person with cared need) – is fully understood. 
  • Health and wellbeing – Unpaid carers are now a priority within the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Strategy. Ensure that this results in action to address carer health inequalities, with a focus on transformation and strategic Health and Care projects in Leeds (e.g. Healthy Leeds Plan priority projects and Home First). 
  • Money and the cost of living – Leeds initiatives targeted at the cost of living or poverty reduction should include unpaid carers. Local organisations to join with Carers Leeds to support a national campaign to reform the benefits system to better support carers. This should include raising the level of Carer’s Allowance, increasing its earnings limit, and introducing a taper. 
  • Work and Unpaid Care – Design and deliver a tailored Leeds based employment support programme to help unpaid carers who want to work, return to work. Work with Carers Leeds to increase the number of ‘carer friendly’ employers across our city’. Ensure that work and unpaid care is visible in other local employer initiatives, such as the Fair Work Charter. 

Claire Turner, Chief Executive of Carers Leeds said:  

Carers Week provides us with an opportunity to recognise and support unpaid carers. We know that providing unpaid care can be incredibly rewarding but it can also be hugely challenging. If someone in our city is providing unpaid care for family, friends or neighbours, they must not do so at a cost to their own health and wellbeing, finances, or relationships. 

The daily struggles and pressures, combined with worries about the future, are dominating many people’s caring experience. During Carers Week and beyond we must ensure that unpaid carers in Leeds have the information, advice and support they need to undertake their caring role and are able to live fulfilling lives.’ 

You can read the full report here. 

Carers Leeds

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