Suffolk Sees 125% Increase In Those Becoming Carers Across The County

Suffolk has seen a huge rise in the number of people registering as crucial carers over the last 12 months, with Suffolk Family Carers reporting a 125% increase on previous year-long averages.

Releasing their latest findings to coincide with this year’s national Carers Week – which runs 7-13 June – the charity has also reported that the number of people spending 50+ hours per week performing caring duties, rose to 64% (compared to 23% of carers in 2011).

In March of 2020 alone, Suffolk Family Carers recorded 1000 new carer registrations – against a typical average of 300 in a normal month.

These findings capture the stark way in which family and friends were required to step into more full-time caring roles throughout the pandemic – a role many are continuing to perform even with the country emerging from lockdown.

While caring for elder persons in the county clearly became necessary for many families, a significant number of those becoming a ‘carer’ for the first time in Suffolk, were those who registered as a parent carer, specifically looking after someone with autism or ADHD.

Kristen Alderson

Kirsten Alderson, CEO of Suffolk Family Carers, says the data reveals what a major part ‘informal carers’ played throughout the challenging first 12 months of the pandemic.

“There’s no escaping the fact that those we at Suffolk Family Carers often feel are the ‘invisible carers’, were shouldering a significant responsibility throughout incredibly trying times in our society,” she said.

“Many of these people, who we were able to get registered as carers, were not the kind who might previously have acknowledged themselves as a ‘carer’, but instead saw themselves as a parent or a partner looking out for their loved one.

“A very big part of our work has been to make sure the concept of the carer has become visible not only to those incredible individuals, but also to society generally.

“We need more people – from family to friends to employers – to understand and appreciate just how many households in Suffolk include an ‘invisible carer’. They play such an important role in their family or community.”

Recent data suggests there are an estimated 88,000 adult carers living in Suffolk, and Suffolk Family Carers works to ensure that they can access emotional support, advice around financial entitlements, and details about other resources and opportunities in the community which enable a family to continue to thrive.

Their services also include learning opportunities, respite and peer support networks. 

Commenting on vaccine uptake by carers, Kirsten commented: “The vaccine rollout certainly played a part in us seeing an increase in people registering as carers.

“In Suffolk, 97% of those registered as carers with us have come forward to take up the vaccine as soon as it has been offered. We’re delighted that they were able to get on to the list as quickly as they were.”

She added: “Carers perform such an important role. The one thing we want more businesses, neighbours and families to be aware of, is that our informal or hidden carers should be visible and valued.

“Supporting carers now is key to ensuring that they feel able to emerge from this tough period in a way which allows their life, and that of their loved ones, to get back to some kind of normality as soon as possible.”

Carers are encouraged to register themselves on the Suffolk Family Carers website to stay fully aware of what existing or new services are available. Visit the website at www.suffolkfamilycarers.org or email [email protected] or telephone 01473 835477.

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