It’s time to honour Norfolk’s unpaid carers

It's time to recognise the huge contribution that unpaid carers make to our society, says Nick Conra

It's time to recognise the huge contribution that unpaid carers make to our society, says Nick Conrad. - Credit: Archant

It's time to recognise the vital work that unpaid carers do, says Nick Conrad.

Like mind-blowing statistics? Well, here's one: by 2037, according to Carers UK, there will be nine million unpaid carers in the UK.

Most will not recognise themselves as such. Most will never get the credit they deserve for the important role they play in society. Even worse, many will not recognise that there is practical support available that can help change lives. So, this week I'm asking all EDP readers to show your love and support for those who possess the patience, positivity, and determination that it takes to care for somebody who needs their help.

The 2011 census showed 100,000 individuals in Norfolk who identified themselves as carers. Many have dependent children at the same time as caring for older relatives.

Finding a wider long-term political solution has become a national headache. It could be argued that many politicians grapple with this seismic challenge before the reality of their own political fragility stifles meaningful progress. No single political party is capable of delivering a solution. Now, more than ever, a consensus should reach beyond Westminster, powered by the experience of those who use services, their families and care professionals.

The estimated value of carers' contribution in 2011 in this region was more than £900 million. We should passionately support our care workers, they are vital to our economy.

I've previously written about my grandmother's live-in carers, three wonderful women whose attitude to my grandmother is beautiful to witness. Their hard work has afforded liberty to our family to support, without drowning in the responsibility of providing an all-encompassing solution.

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Sadly, many cannot afford the luxury of procuring this service. On their shoulders weighs a great responsibility, their efforts fuelled by love and compassion. There is a compelling argument that care is a duty and we should all want to look after our parents.

However, for one unsung band of care providers their efforts are so often overlooked.

A growing number of children are seeing the innocence of youth taken away by providing care for loved ones. To qualify as a 'young carer' this individual, under 18 years of age, would help look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. There are more than 700,000 young carers in the UK - that's about one in 12 secondary aged pupils.

Many don't confess to the responsibility they undertake or indeed even identify their work as 'care'. It's a great pity as they may well qualify for help and assistance.

So I want to get right behind a special event to support all our brilliant carers. Inspired by family carers and the people they care for, a regional charity that supports carers by providing care and forums for young carers in the region is planning for a special event.

Carers Trust Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Norfolk is launching the 'Pride in Our Carers Awards'. Held during National Carers Week 2018, the event will be an opportunity for carers, employers and support agencies from across the region to come together, to have a chat, to take part in workshops, to learn something new and to recognise all family carers in the region for their outstanding work. It is also an opportunity to let people know that there is practical help and support out there.

Our ageing society represents one of the biggest human challenges of our time – every family is affected. I cannot foresee a political consensus on our direction of travel, so we need to stop looking at the squabbling MPs for solutions. One way to start is to recognise the wonderful work individuals in this sector do and start support the organisations and charities that 'care for the carers'.

The charity is seeking nominations for the awards in all categories including Carer of the Year and Employer of the Year. All of them can be found on the charity's website: The deadline for nominations has been extended to midnight on Sunday April 22 2018. The event is free and bookings are open by calling Carers Trust Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk on 01480 499090 or 01733 645234