Carers Trust Cambridgeshire believes that many family carers could be missing out on vital information, including financial benefits, because they do not realise they are entitled to them.
It is a message that Carers Trust Cambridgeshire is actively promoting in the run up to Carers Rights Day which is taking place on Friday, 20 November.
Dr Helen Brown, CEO of Carers Trust Cambridgeshire, said: “We know that having the right information at the right time can make a huge difference when you are looking after someone, which is this year’s Carers Rights Day theme. Many people struggle to navigate the mazes of health and care services and entitlements, and miss out on financial and practical support as a result. And it’s not the thousands of people new to caring every year in Cambridgeshire – even those who have been caring for years sometimes aren’t aware of all their entitlements.”
Traditionally family carers tend to under-claim, often because they do not recognise themselves as an unpaid carer and do not realise they or their families could be entitled to financial help.
Dr Brown added: “In 2013, Carers UK estimated the value of unclaimed benefit in Cambridgeshire to be £7,351,390 per year, with the greatest numbers in Huntingdonshire and Fenland.
“As the leading provider of family carer support services in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, part of our duty is to inform carers about their rights and entitlements. But there are many unrecognised family carers who we are not in touch with and they are missing out. We want to reach out to these people and make sure they have the information they need. When carers do contact us for the first time, they often tell us, ‘If only I had known about you before.’”
There were 78,000 family carers in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in 2011, but this is believed to be an under estimated figure now. Crucially, the numbers are likely to soar in the future, as people live longer with health conditions, whilst local authority spending in social care is drastically reduced, placing a stronger emphasis on people being cared for at home by families and loved ones.
As well as being a big strain on their health and well-being, leaving carers stressed and exhausted, caring can have severe financial implications too, with nearly 8 out of 10 families caring for someone saying it has had an impact on their finances.
There are three million people in the UK who combine work and caring, and every year two million people give up work to care. They have a right to information, which may help them make more informed choices. Carers also have rights in employment and to have their caring needs assessed.
Do look out for our dedicated staff in the Cambridge area at the following venues to promote Carers Rights Day 2015:
- Thursday, 12 November, 10am – 12 noon, Concourse, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge
- Monday, 16 November, 10.30 am – 1pm, Tesco Extra Superstore, Community Room, Bar Hill, Carers Drop In
- Tuesday, 17 November, 10.30am – 1pm, Free Church, 1 High Street, Sawston, Carers Drop In
- Tuesday, 17 November, 10.30am – 12.30 pm, Recovery Hospital, Cambridge, Ida Darwin Hospital, Fulbourn
- Wednesday, 18 November, 10 am – 12 noon, Masonic Hall, Bateman Street, Cambridge, Carers Drop In
- Wednesday, 18 November, 12 noon – 2pm, Barclays Bank, St Andrew’s Street, Cambridge
- Thursday, 19 November, Scotsdale Garden Centre, 120 Cambridge Road, Great Shelford
- Macmillan Pod, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, throughout the whole of November on the Carers Rights Awareness Board
Further information is available from Carers Trust Cambridgeshire on 01480 499090, and from Carers UK: https://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/campaigns/carers-rights-day