1. ITV Report

Carers Week: Lack of support means those helping others are 'losing out in life'

Few carers feel they get the help and support they need in a difficult role Credit: PA

Millions of people in the UK who care for sick, elderly or disabled friends or relatives are missing out on life chances because of a lack of support from those around them.

More than 6.5 million people voluntarily look after a loved one, according to charity Carers UK.

But a lack of understanding about their role means many see their own health decline or are forced to give up work or cut their hours.

Jo Vidler, whose daughter Livvy has hypoadrenalism, told ITV News that it could be a real challenge to balance employed work with being a carer, but that having both was important.

"It can be a real challenge trying to juggle to two," she said.

  • Jo Vidler cares for her daughter Livvy who has hypoadrenalism:

In a study of more than 6,000 carers half had let a health problem go untreated or seen their mental health get worse.

Fewer than a third said they got they help they need when there is an emergency, while just under half said they had struggled financially.

of carers have given up work or reduced their hours
of carers have been unable to pursue, or had to turn down a promotion
of carers say the have struggled financially

Emily Holzhausen, director of policy at Carers UK, said it was essential there was better support for carers.

"We're calling on individuals, organisations and governments to think about what they can do to improve the lives of carers in their community," she said.

Carers have told us that it makes a huge difference to their lives when they are supported by their local services and communities; whether that's being offered a flexible appointment to see their GP, having flexible working policies from their employers, or their school raising awareness of caring and disability.

Despite this, the majority of carers told us that their local community was not supportive of their caring role, which in turn is having a significant and negative impact on their life chances.

– Emily Holzhausen, Carers UK

The survey's findings come ahead of Carers Week, which is run by seven charities to celebrate and recognise the work carried out by millions of carers across the UK.