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The Unseen Heroes: Celebrating Unpaid Carers and Supporting Their Wellbeing

Date: 10 June 2024

Author: Humber Recovery and Wellbeing College

Unpaid carers are the unsung heroes of our communities, providing invaluable support to those in need without financial compensation. Whether they are looking after a family member, a friend, or volunteering their time, these individuals play a critical role in maintaining the health and wellbeing of many. However, despite their dedication and compassion, unpaid carers often face significant challenges that can impact their mental and physical health. Recognising these struggles and providing practical solutions for support is essential to ensure these carers can continue their vital work effectively and sustainably.

The Challenges Faced by Unpaid Carers

Mental Health Struggles 

Unpaid carers frequently experience high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression due to the demanding nature of their responsibilities. The constant pressure to meet the needs of others can lead to emotional exhaustion and burnout, particularly when carers lack adequate support.

Counselling and therapy services can provide a vital outlet for carers to express their feelings and receive professional support. Many organisations, have mental health services specifically for carers. 

Click here to download list of organisations

Physical Health Issues

The physical demands of caregiving, such as lifting, feeding, and providing mobility assistance, can take a toll on carers’ bodies. Many carers suffer from chronic pain, fatigue, and other health issues as a result of their caregiving duties.

Regular physical activity can help carers manage stress and maintain their physical health. Programs like the Humber Recovery & Wellbeing College “Boxing for Health” and Tai Chi classes offer excellent opportunities for carers to engage in stress-relieving and mood-boosting exercises. 

Click here to view courses

Social Isolation

The intense commitment required for caregiving often leaves little time for social activities, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness. This lack of social interaction can further exacerbate mental health issues.

Joining support groups, both online and in-person, can help carers connect with others in similar situations. Sharing experiences and advice can reduce feelings of isolation and build a sense of community.

Financial Strain

Without financial compensation, many unpaid carers struggle to make ends meet. This financial stress can add to their mental burden and limit their ability to access resources and support.

Various grants, subsidies, and financial aid programs are available to help unpaid carers manage their expenses. Researching and applying for these resources can alleviate some of the financial strain. (Click here to view list of organisations offering financial support for careers).

Educational Resources

Learning about self-care and stress management through workshops and courses can empower carers to take better care of themselves. The Humber Recovery & Wellbeing College offers a range of sessions designed to promote well-being, including “Mood and Food,” which explores the impact of diet on mental health, and “Restful Nights,” an e-course focusing on improving sleep quality. (Click here to view all our courses)

The Humber Recovery & Wellbeing College and Support for Unpaid Carers

The Humber Recovery College is dedicated to supporting the well-being of unpaid carers through a variety of innovative programs and resources. By offering workshops on mindfulness, guided meditation, physical activities, and nutritional education, the college provides carers with the tools they need to manage stress, improve their health, and enhance their quality of life.

One upcoming event of note is the “Unpaid Carers Community” online session via Microsoft Teams on the 25th of June. This free session will provide a platform for carers to connect, share experiences, and access valuable resources. It is an excellent opportunity for unpaid carers to find community support, learn new self-care strategies, and gain insights into managing their roles more effectively.

As an unpaid carer for a loved one, a neighbour or a friend you will need to contact your local carers support to register yourself as a carer. As well as taking on an important role of being a carer for someone close to you, registering and arranging an assessment is one of the most important tasks you will undertake and safeguards you and the person you care for. They are there to help you navigate your way through the mire of paperwork. As the numbers of unpaid carers increase, so the need for a more joined up support groups for carers was always inevitable. We are working together to eradicate the feeling of isolation and depression, we as unpaid carers can feel from time to time, and the need for you to know that you are not alone in your journey. However, we also know that, out of the huge number of carers that are currently registered, there are still some out there that are not registered, these are ‘the silent carers.’ The ones that don’t ask for support, that feel ashamed, embarrassed even, maybe a little guilty of the thought that they may need to ask for support. The people who think of themselves as the strong ones, the ones who can manage and say they “do not need help, I don’t need anyone knowing my business.” I was that person once; I’ve walked in those shoes, and it made me physically and mentally ill. So, I urge you to come forward and register, take all the help you can, do not feel embarrassed, guilty, ashamed, do not be that strong person who feels they can do it all, because believe me you cannot and most importantly you don’t have to be alone, isolated, helpless and weighed down by all the guilt. We are here to help you!

Vicki Scurr, Unpaid Carers Champion

Unpaid carers are essential to the wellbeing of countless individuals, and their contributions should be celebrated and supported. By addressing the mental and physical challenges they face, and providing practical solutions and resources, we can help ensure these carers remain healthy and resilient. The Humber Recovery and Wellbeing College programs and the upcoming “Unpaid Carers Community” session on the 25th of June are vital steps in providing this much-needed support. Unpaid carers are the backbone of compassionate care in our society, and it is our collective responsibility to support them in their invaluable work.