Hello everyone,

First of all, I would like to wish everyone a happy, peaceful and healthy 2023.

At Gateshead Carers we are well aware of the challenges facing people providing unpaid care to a family member or friend. Last year we provided direct one-to-one support to over 1500 people across a range of issues including financial difficulties, issues with council care packages either being reduced or not delivered due to a shortage of paid care workers, inappropriate and short notice hospital discharges, relationship breakdowns, mental and physical health challenges, employers who were not supportive of employees providing unpaid care and loneliness along with a vast array of other challenges as a result of providing unpaid care.

We hear a lot on the news about the ‘crisis in the NHS’ and the ‘crisis in social care’. What we rarely or never hear on the news is any mention of the ‘crisis in unpaid care’. Of the total amount of care provided to disabled or sick people 20% is provided by the NHS and Social Care. The vast majority of care (80%) is provided by family members and friends. More people than ever before are providing
unpaid care and providing more of it (hours per week) and for more years of their lives.

The problems across the NHS and Social Care, driven by a lack of government funding, are being ‘solved’ by making family members and friends provide more care. This comes at a huge cost, for those providing that unpaid care, to their wellbeing, mental and physical health, financial health, and quality of life. All of this is happening 8 years after the passing of the Care Act which set out clearly the legal duty of local authorities in relation to assessing people’s needs and their eligibility for publicly funded care and support. This includes people providing unpaid care.

As an organisation established by unpaid carers as a ‘members association’ and which is run by and for unpaid carers, we think enough is enough. We want people with an unpaid caring role to be recognised, valued, supported and to have the same opportunities in life as the rest of the population. We need your help to do that. The more members we have the more powerful we are and the more we can influence and change policies and practice across health and social care.

If you are caring unpaid for someone please become a member. It’s free and easy to do. Just give us a call, email us or join via our website. You can be involved as much or as little as you want. You can stand for election to become a member of our board of trustees or you may just want to continue receiving our newsletter. It’s totally up to you. In Gateshead it’s now estimated that there are over 28000 people providing unpaid care. We are all individuals but we are part of the biggest but least visible and least heard community in Gateshead. Together we have a collective voice. Please join us and let’s make that voice loud and clear.

With best wishes,

Steve Cowen
Chief Executive Officer and unpaid carer for 12 years

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