“Happy Christmas, Ho Ho” these words are currently ringing out in shops , in the street, on the TV everywhere. I too wish you a Merry Christmas, but for thousands of carers Christmas may not be such a happy occasion. Often at this time of year friends/family, workers in the care industry have their own well deserved break and enjoy the festive season. Although I am sure family carers do not begrudge this, it does and can mean more is asked of them in what can often be an already difficult situation. There may be extra financial strain as they buy presents for family and friends, try to keep warm if the weather deteriorates. We know that 49% of unpaid family carers struggle financially, that 1 in 5 give up their jobs to care. Clubs and day centres are shut, transport links reduced, over both Christmas and the New Year , often meaning it can be two or three weeks before the person they care for is able to access these vital services again, that are essential in helping them in their caring role. Recent figures state that 83% of unpaid family carers suffer from poor mental and physical health as a direct result of their caring role.
Others who are what are now being called distance carers , i.e. live away from the person they nevertheless care for, a growing phenomenon as families become more mobile, may not be able to visit due, as stated earlier, to reduce transport. Thus the person they care for may face a lonely Christmas. Memories may be both happy and sad as family and friends remember Christmases past.
Although many carers will be with their families at this time and will enjoy the Christmas and New Year, it is important to remember that it is not the case for everyone. That we should be aware all the year of the trials/rewards of caring, but especially at Christmas time.
I started this message with the words “Happy Christmas” and I do want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. It is a time to say thank you to all the staff of Carers Trust both in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Norfolk for all their hard work and support given to the organisation and to carers who live in these areas. Also to the Board of Trustees for their help, support and guidance, but mostly to the thousands of family carers/friends, may they be young or old who support and care for someone.
Best wishes to everyone
Carers Trust Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Norfolk