There are 6.5 million people in the UK caring – unpaid – for family and loved ones. That figure will rise (increasing by 3.4 million over the next 30 years) over the next few decades, part of a huge and important demographic trend. The aim of the Carers' Issue is to examine what it means for all of us – those of us already covering the caring, or who soon will be.
The work of carers is often physically and mentally strenuous, and a lot of the time that strain is not alleviated by love for the cared-for person. Many carers report feeling guilty for wanting a day off, even when it's necessary. Many struggle with the shift – in both lifestyle and relationship – that comes with looking after a loved one. And at the same time, many find a peace in caring for another human being and find it to be a rewarding, although emotionally bruising, experience. Of course, a lot of care is being done by professionals as well, from day services in-home or at centres to long-term, multiple-resident facilities.
One of the things many carers report is a feeling of frustration over a lack or inadequacy of attention and support from official bodies. The plight of young carers is a particularly urgent one; one charity estimates that there are about 2 million children in the UK who aren't defined as carers, even when they are. Carers report working through what often feels like a deliberately constructed wall of obfuscation by institutions that are supposed to be helping them and their loved ones.
We hope you will find something of value from all these posts: some support and camaraderie if you need it, information and insight if you require it from, and everyday human stories if you like those. These are stories from both the carers and the cared-for.
Welcome to the Carers' Issue.