The high value Sutton places on its unpaid carers has been highlighted during this year’s National Carers’ Week.
The week, from 7-14 June, has had the theme of Building Carer-friendly Communities – communities that support carers to look after their loved ones well, while recognising they are individuals with needs of their own.
Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, and highlights the challenges carers face and recognises the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.
In Sutton an estimated 19,000 people of all ages juggle their jobs, education and other responsibilities to care for family and friends. They may be a child or young person helping to care for his mother who has bipolar disorder, parents looking after a child with spina bifida, a working-age adult whose partner has Multiple Sclerosis, or an older person looking after a spouse with dementia.
Such carers make up around 10 per cent of the borough’s population but the work they do goes largely unseen and unnoticed.
Liberal Democrat council member, Marlene Heron, who is Sutton Council’s Adult Carers Champion, paid warm tribute to the borough’s unpaid carers. Cllr Heron said: “They often make tremendous sacrifices to look after some of the most vulnerable people in our community. These dedicated people are not care workers, but work as unpaid carers in our community to look after some of our most vulnerable citizens.
“With the recent changes to provision since the introduction of the Care Act around the care and support of adults, we are working to ensure that the wellbeing of the carers and those they care for is at the heart of what we do with and for them.
“To help us achieve this, we are working with Sutton Carers Centre to reach out to the carers in our community and discuss with them what the new provision under the Care Act means for them.”
Rachael MacLeod, Chief Executive of Sutton Carers Centre, which is part-funded by Sutton Council, said: “Carers around the country provide more unpaid care than the social services and NHS combined, an estimated £100bn-worth of labour each year to keep people healthy and well.
“There is no off-the-peg, one-size-fits-all when it comes to who carers are. A young carer may be at school and having to juggle their education, homework and leisure time around looking after a parent with a disability or long-term illness. A parent carer may have had to give up work to care full-time for their child with special needs. Or an adult carer may be supporting his wife who is near the end of her life with cancer. The list is endless.
“Such people deserve the recognition, respect and support of the entire community, and we welcome the support of Sutton Council in helping achieve this.”
The Mayor of Sutton, Cllr Muhammad Sadiq, held a lunchtime reception in Sutton Civic Centre for the launch of Carers Week, during which he honoured Sutton’s carers and welcomed staff from Sutton Carers Centre and other prominent supporters of carers’ issues in the borough.