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  1. ITV Report

Who Cares? 60,000 unpaid carers in a single Yorkshire city

Les Thompson is spending his retirement caring for his wife Lilian Credit: ITV News

An army of 60,000 people are acting as unpaid carers for a loved one in a major Yorkshire city.

As part of ITV Calendar's series, Who Cares?, we talk to one such person, Les Thompson, now spending his retirement caring for wife Lilian who has Parkinson's Disease

With an expanding ageing population and decreasing state funds to pay for care, the unpaid work of family and friends can take its toll, as Les, of Sheffield, reveals: 'When I was working you know we used to work seven days sometimes and I used to come home very tired but caring is a different kettle of fish it's like 24 hours.

"I thought at first you know I would be able to handle it, that it will be all right sort of thing - but it isn't. It's 24/7 and you have got to be there."

– Les Thompson

However, a new business venture is providing a life line for Les and fellow unpaid carers. A new business set up last month providing a few hours respite care allows people like Les to enjoy a break.

'It gives me a bit of lift because I can go out and even though I might be shopping like I generally do I can get out without feeling - or should I say with knowing - that my wife is being looked after,' he explains.

Les Thompson gets some respite at a new centre that helps carers Credit: ITV News

Sheffield City Councillor Cate McDonald says the work of the 60,000-strong volunteers is appreciated by those in authority who wield the purse strings:

"We have a vibrant community voluntary sector and spend quite a lot of money with them to make sure they can support people who may well be lonely or isolated in their communities.

I would like to reassure people that for those who need the services we will be here to provide them."

– Cate McDonald

Meanwhile, one woman is showing age in no barrier to be a carer. June Shepherd is 81 and thought to be the oldest paid for carer in the country.

She is paid to work 16 hours a week as a carer in Sheffield, tending to people who are younger - and older - than her.

'I like to talk to them because especially the older ones like to talk about the olden days and I can connect with them from what my mother told me,' she said.

  • Click below to watch the video report from Martin Fisher:

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