Who’s caring for the carers?
From 12 to 18 June this year, it’s Carers Week – a week celebrating those who dedicate their lives to caring for others.
To mark the occasion, events are happening all over the UK, bringing together a wide range of charities and organisations to build much-needed carer friendly communities. Carers Week celebrates carers of all ages who are putting in hard work to care for the people they love, often for little or no pay. These are the people that are there at all hours, dealing with a wide range of situations, from long term illness to old age to mental ill-health and addiction. Often they’re there because there’s no one else.
Carers do lots of different jobs depending on the situation of the person they’re looking after. They may be there to offer practical support with day-to-day activities, emotional support or advice in financial matters. They may be measuring and administering medicine or helping the person to get around. The question is: who’s caring for the carers?
Without the right support, both emotionally and financially, being a carer can become very difficult. While these people are so focused on someone else’s wellbeing, their own physical and mental health can be affected, they may struggle to sleep, maintain relationships with friends and family or hold down a job.
Sadly, this was a true story for Richard* and his wife Jodie*. Jodie was suffering with bipolar disorder and, as a result, had to leave her job. As her health deteriorated further, Richard decided to give up his job too in order to be at home to care for her. In a position where neither of them could work nor bring in a stable income, and with Richard finding he couldn’t claim Carer’s Allowance, the couple struggled to cope and sadly fell into serious debt.
‘We had no income,’ says Richard. ‘People lent us money, we used credit cards, and it all got out of control. We went without food for a week once – we just didn’t eat.’
For Jodie, the combination of her condition and the stressful situation they were in caused her to lose all hope. ‘All I could see was blackness,’ she explains.
Thankfully, Jodie and Richard weren’t as alone as they may have felt. Jodie was volunteering at her local church hall one day when she happened to meet a CAP Centre Manager and built up the courage to explain her situation. The couple were then visited at home and an affordable plan was put in place to allow them to start paying off their debts. With the help of CAP and their church, things started to feel a lot more hopeful. ‘We owe CAP a debt of gratitude,’ says Richard. ‘They’ve saved us. There’s light at the end of tunnel.’
If you need help with debt, whatever the reason may be, call CAP free of charge on 0800 328 0006 between 8:30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. To find out more about Carers Week and how to pledge your support, visit the official website and join the conversation on social media using #CarersWeek.
*Names have been changed in the interest of confidentiality