As the cost-of-living crisis worsens in the UK, those looking after a family member or friend have been amongst the hardest hit.
The charity Carers First works directly with and for thousands of carers across Lincolnshire, providing personalised information and tailored support in the way that suits them: online, on the phone, or face-to-face in their local community.
They have launched a campaign to support carers in getting help making ends meet this winter.
Lighten the Load aims to raise awareness of the financial support available to carers and increase the number accessing that support. The campaign is a response to a survey conducted by the charity, which found that more than nine out of ten carers are worried about the cost of living.
The survey also revealed that nine in ten carers lose sleep because they worry about how to afford the essentials. More than half are already in debt or will be soon, owing to their caring responsibilities. A third is going without food regularly.
Damien, 44, from Boston, cares for his wife, who has mental health challenges and physical disabilities. Damien is also affected by anxiety.
The constant news headlines about the cost of living have amplified Damien’s anxiety. He is also worried about how they are going to manage this winter. He says, “Last winter, I sat in all my clothes and coat. I haven’t got any more clothes to put on this winter; what will I do?
The charity is hearing more stories like Damien’s from other carers, but many are unaware help is available.
Alison Taylor, Chief Executive at Carers First, said: “Many carers are under great financial pressures with soaring energy, food and housing costs, which negatively impacts their physical and mental health. We want to ensure carers like Charlotte get the support they need to make ends meet this winter.”
Carers First surveyed over 1,000 unpaid carers in August to find out how the rising cost of living affected their lives. The survey found that:
Nine in ten carers (93%) are worried about the increasing cost of living.
93% lose sleep because they are concerned about how to afford the essentials.
Over half (52%) of carers are already in debt or will be soon, owing to their caring responsibilities.
One in five (21%) carers not accessing financial support didn’t realise that help was available.
A third of carers have already significantly changed their food shopping habits, and many are already going without food regularly.
33% of carers are not going out in a bid to save money, leaving them even more lonely and isolated.
15% of carers are now experiencing severe mental health and depression.
The charity has created a dedicated section on its website promoting the information, tools and resources to help carers maximise their income and make their money go further. Carers can sign up for a free email series, ‘Financial Support in Five Steps’, which breaks down information about financial support into simple, straightforward guidance. This includes claiming benefits, grants, discounts, help paying household bills and budgeting.
The charity is also promoting the support available from partners, including Discount for Carers ( a benefit provider for carers), the Legal and General Care Concierge service (Legal & General Care Concierge service is a confidential one-to-one telephone service designed to support people with caring for a loved one in their later life. Legal & General offers a free 30-minute impartial guidance call about what practical and financial assistance may be available. Call them on 0800 086 9071 and quote ‘Carers First’), and Anglian Water (Anglian Water provides additional support to a wide range of customers, including carers and the people they care for. Anglian can help by providing free practical support through their Priority Services Register and offering affordable payment plans, discounted tariffs and assistance schemes for customers who may be struggling to pay).
To find out more about the campaign, visit https://www.carersfirst.org.uk/LightenTheLoad/.
The local staff teams in Lincolnshire, Essex, Hackney, Haringey, Medway, Newham, Southend and Waltham Forest work in the community to help carers who need more dedicated support.
If you or someone you know could benefit from support from Carers First, call the helpline on 0300 303 1555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal & General Care Concierge service is a confidential one-to-one telephone service designed to support people caring for a loved one in their later life. Legal & General offers a free 30-minute impartial guidance call about what practical and financial assistance may be available. Call them on 0800 086 9071 and quote ‘Carers First’.
Carers First is a registered charity in England and Wales which provides help and support to unpaid carers so they can live their lives to the fullest.