This week is National Carers Week, and I would like to ask your readers to spare a thought for the six million carers in the UK.
One in eight of the population cares for a disabled or older spouse or family member and this number is rising rapidly. Carers provide round the clock care for their loved ones and often go unrecognised, unsupported and invisible to society. Without regular respite from their daily struggle, many carers face a bleak future of physical and social isolation, depression, ill health and despair.
I work for a charity called Vitalise. We provide desperately-needed respite breaks for people with disabilities and their carers at our accessible UK centres. The people who visit us often tell us just how important a break is in their lives – people like this woman who cares for her father, who has dementia. She told us:
“The biggest challenge in caring for my Dad is simply that it’s 24/7. I feel isolated from a ‘normal’ life, as all my time and energy goes into caring for him. Carers never get enough support. I cared for Dad for a year with no support at all. Regular breaks are really important. Just being able to relax, knowing Dad is safe and happy, makes such a difference. I really feel I wouldn’t cope at all now without our breaks. At Vitalise I get to be his daughter again, instead of his carer - it’s a wonderful feeling.”
During Carers Week 2011, I would like to ask your readers to remember that carers need breaks just as much as those they care for, and to support our vital work in the region. We don’t get a penny from central government, but rely on the compassion and generosity of our supporters to keep on providing our vital services, so please help us. To make a donation or for more information about our breaks, call 0845 345 1972 or visit www.vitalise.org.uk.
Colin Brook, Vitalise by email