A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support.

The responsibility of caring for someone can have a huge impact on the carer’s life, both day-to-day and long term, affecting relationships, health, finances, school and work.

In some cases, people might be unaware they’ve become a carer as the transition from short-term help to long-term care can sometimes happen slowly.

It is important to help people recognise if they’ve become an unpaid carer, signpost what help might be available, and encourage them to reach out for help when they need it.

The chances are, most people will become a carer or require care at some point in their life. In the UK, roughly nine per cent of people (around 5.7 million people) are carers. 

Care for the elderly is increasing as our population ages and 1 in 14 of people over 65 years is living with dementia.

Mental health of our young is deteriorating and more of our children are being educated at home due to poor wellbeing.

A survey by Carers UK found that for 82 per cent of carers, the impact of caring on their physical and mental health would be a challenge over the coming year, and for nearly 60 per cent, being valued as a carer would improve their well-being.

Ahead of the 2024 General Election on July 4, Carers UK has produced a manifesto for carers, calling on all political parties to commit to a new social contract for carers to recognise the enormous contribution millions of people make each day by providing the unpaid care that their families and friends need.

Over the next five years and beyond, whichever party forms the next government must do much more to ensure that every carer has the financial, practical and workplace support they need.

Carers can be any age: a 15-year-old looking after a parent with an alcohol problem, a 40-year-old caring for their partner who has terminal cancer, or an 80-year-old looking after their husband who has Alzheimer's disease.

Caring can lead to poverty if you have to give up work to care or are managing on benefits.

Carers in poverty cannot afford the things that many of us take for granted, such as buying new or warm clothes, heating the house, house repairs, having a holiday or running a car.

Support is provided locally through Devon Carers (devoncarers.co.uk). They can help you with information and advice on support and financial matters.