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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Impossible situation as many forced into unpaid care


Unpaid care for friends, family and loved ones is not a choice for many Scots

A poll has found 58% of unpaid carers in Scotland said that they had to take on the carer role because no other care options were available.

Carers Scotland estimates that this is the equivalent 824,000 people in Scotland having no choice over their caring role.

The YouGov Omnibus poll also found that women were more likely than men to say they had to take on the unpaid carer role because no other care options were available (60% women compared with 56% men).

Although many unpaid carers find caring for a family member or friend to be rewarding1, performing this role with little support is taking a heavy toll in a variety of ways.

Some 51% of current and former unpaid carers in Scotland stated that caring ’slightly’ or ‘very’ negatively impacted their finances and savings, while 63% of unpaid carers in Scotland said that caring had caused a ‘slightly or ‘very’ negative effect on their mental health and wellbeing.

An additional YouGov Political Omnibus poll showed widespread backing for more to be done for unpaid carers, with 76% of people in Scotland saying that the next UK government should provide more support for unpaid carers.

Despite their huge contribution, far too many unpaid carers do not feel supported in their role amidst a widespread lack of support from health and social care services. It is estimated that unpaid carers save the economy an incredible £13.1 billion a year in Scotland. Yet, many carers feel their role is forgotten and invisible.

Richard Meade, director, Carers Scotland said: “These findings demonstrate how caring can have a profound effect on every aspect of life and wellbeing, from mental and physical health, from being able to work, affecting their future income including pensions. Many carers are struggling. As our population ages and more and more people will take on a caring role, we must ensure more is done to identify carers and ensure they get the support they need to care and to enjoy a good quality of life.

“Carers Week is an important annual opportunity to ‘put carers on the map’. We want unpaid carers to know they are not forgotten, and they are not alone. Many are at breaking point, facing challenges managing caring alongside their own health and wellbeing – with carers worried about their own health, security and ability to care in the future.”

Carers Week, which is held annually, is taking place this week from 10 June – 16 June. It is a UK-wide awareness campaign seeking to increase visibility of carers with decision makers, services, employers, communities, and businesses. This year’s theme ‘Putting carers on the Map’ aims to bring much-needed recognition to unpaid carers that they feel they need.

In Scotland, Carers Scotland delivers Carers Week in partnership: Age Scotland, Carers Trust, The Lewy Body Society, The ME Association, MND Scotland, Oxfam Scotland.

Lewis Ryder-Jones, Oxfam Scotland’s advocacy adviser, said: “If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that without carers, our country and our economy would simply grind to a halt. Yet for far too long Scotland’s carers, most of whom are women, have been undervalued and under rewarded, with many pushed to breaking point – both emotionally and financially.

“All levels of government must deliver the practical policies and actions needed, backed by increased investment, to make a tangible difference to carers’ daily lives. And to help put carers in Scotland firmly on the map, we urge the First Minister to deliver on the promise of the Scottish Government’s proposed new National Outcome on Care, and then quickly put in place the policies and funding needed to deliver it.”

And Becky Duff, Carers Trust Scotland’s director, added: “Carers Week is a great opportunity to shine a light on unpaid carers, but caring is a daily reality for over 800,000 people in Scotland. Unpaid carers - who often feel invisible and undervalued - provide over £13billion of care every year in Scotland. Their efforts are stopping our health and social care systems from collapsing.”

“The research published this Carers Week confirms that for the majority of these unpaid carers - who are managing increased caring demands coupled with decreased support - have worsening physical, mental and financial health. This must change. With three in five of us having caring responsibilities at some point in our lives, we need to understand that caring is all of our business. It’s time for Scotland to show that we care about unpaid carers.”



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