Dame Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport, co-Chair of the APPG for Carers & former Minister for Care, held a debate today in the House of Commons to mark Carers Week.
Carers Week runs from June 5-11, to celebrate the role of unpaid carers, looking after loved ones often at great personal sacrifice. Over 5.7 million people in the UK are providing unpaid care.
Being a carer can involve many activities, including personal care, food preparation, mobility assistance, health care and emotional support.
Although support is available, many people do not identify themselves as a carer despite undertaking caring duties.
Caroline tabled the Backbench Business debate to highlight the hard work that carers undertake for their loved ones.
The debate gave MPs the opportunity to pay tribute to carers, raise awareness of the struggles facing many carers, and to raise their stories.
Following a survey, Caroline was able to raise individual stories of many inspirational unpaid carers.
It is estimated that the value of unpaid carers is £162 billion, which is equivalent to spending on the NHS.
Speaking in the debate, Caroline said:
“There are virtually no families that are untouched by this responsibility across the country. I’m speaking today as the co-Chair of the APPG for Carers, I was a former Minister for Care and had responsibility for Unpaid Carers in the government. But actually, my first experience came from when my mum was a carer for my grandmother who was living with dementia.
“We know that caring can be an incredibly profound experience, and we know that for many carers it can be an incredibly positive experience and enables them to build a very special bond with those they care for, and in the vast majority of cases it is driven simply by love.
“We also know that it can take its toll on their health and wellbeing. Caring can take such a different variety of forms. It can be anything from really intimate personal care, to quite complex health care, right the way through to emotional support.”
“we need to recognise them, we need to value them. We need to put our money where our mouth is when we do that, it means that we need to provide them with the support, with the funding, with the respite, with everything that they need to continue with their role because it’s thankless, it’s hard.”
Minister of State for Care, Helen Whately said:
“For many people, caring is something that just happens to you without really realising it. Suddenly, you are spending hours, perhaps all your waking hours, often in the night as well. Caring without realising that you’ve become a carer, without knowing that you might need support, without knowing that you can get support.
“That’s why recognising carers, and indeed helping carers recognise themselves is important in its own right. There’s a good reason why recognising and supporting carers in the community is the theme of this carers week.
“This Carers Week, I’ve met with over 30 unpaid carers, young carers and adult representatives from unpaid carers organisations. Both as Care Minister and in my own life outside of politics, I meet carers all the time, remarkable carers who have shared their stories with me.”