You may not know that this week is Carers Week. It’s probably not a subject that immediately grabs your interest but please bear with me…
Caring is a big subject that should be given more attention. As an idea of its scope, around six million people in the UK are carers who support partners, relatives and friends, and more than one million of those provide care for more than 50 hours a week. That’s a big commitment by a lot of people.
And it is a growing commitment. During the last six months, new calls to Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA) from carers asking for help have doubled. The reasons for this appear to be numerous, from the various pressures caused by the current economic situation through to difficult, highly individual circumstances. However, what is coming through loud and clear is that more and more members of the profession are having to make caring commitments or are being cared for themselves.
Some of this is occurring for reasons that you would expect. Generally, people are living longer and the elderly often need care. This frequently comes from a spouse, of course, but the question of who provides care and when is probably much more complex than you might first imagine. For example, the peak ages at which people give care is in the 50-59 bracket and around three million carers combine caring with working part time. In fact, we speak to more and more people who are juggling career commitments with caring for a loved one.
The pressures under which these carers are placed are enormous, and their health and general wellbeing of many suffers as a consequence.
It is quite likely that, even if the whole subject of caring seems to be on the periphery of your current lifestyle, that one day you will be affected, either because a burden that you probably did not anticipate falls on you or someone near you, or because you need care yourself.
At these times, please remember that CABA can provide help, advice and a listening ear as well as respite. The latter is especially important. Not being able to take a break from a caring commitment is one of the biggest issues facing carers, and providing the means to allow people to walk away for a few hours a week or for an annual holiday is priceless.
Will Soloman, support officer, CABA