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Charity: Unpaid carers struggling

Thousands of unpaid carers are suffering health and career problems because of the struggle to look after sick or disabled family members without help, a new charity has said.

Almost six out of 10 of those polled by the Carers Trust said the strain of looking after a loved one had affected their mental health while the same amount said it had harmed their working life.

Around two-thirds (64%) said they had never accessed any support or services such as counselling or respite breaks while six out of 10 carers who had been looking after someone for more than five years had never accessed any additional support.

There are approximately six million carers in the UK looking after unwell or disabled friends or family, the charity said.

Many find the physical and mental strain of caring has a huge impact, leaving them feeling isolated and without a place to go to seek help and advice.

Anne Roberts, chief executive of Carers Trust, which works to improve services and support for unpaid carers, said: "As this survey shows, many unpaid carers have never accessed any support services to help them in their caring role.

"We already know that many carers simply don't have any awareness of the kind of help that is out there and what a huge difference it could make to their lives.

"We've launched Carers Trust so we can ensure that all carers know where to go to get that help when they need it and to help society recognise and value the role of carers in our communities across the UK."

Almost six in 10 (59%) carers said their role had a negative impact on their working life, the survey of 500 unpaid adult carers found.

A total of 58% said that their mental health has been affected by being a carer while more than a quarter (27%) said both their physical and mental health had been adversely affected by their role.