Thousands of unpaid carers may need helping hand after pandemic

Volunteers at Tower Hamlets Carers Centre in Stepney Green

Volunteers at Tower Hamlets Carers Centre in Stepney Green - Credit: CCTH

Isolated unpaid carers in the East End who are looking after others have been asked to reach out if they need help.

These unsung community heroes devote their lives to others and went that extra mile during the pandemic, but many of the estimated 25,000 men and women may have slipped through the net and are not getting help from Tower Hamlets Carers Centre.  

Some of the "unsung community heroes" at the carers' centre in Brayford Square in Stepney Green

Some of the "unsung community heroes" at the Carers Centre in Brayford Square in Stepney Green - Credit: CCTH

So the centre in Stepney Green is using this year's national Carers Week from June 7 to 13 to make them “visible and valued”. 

“Their important role goes unnoticed,” the Carers Centre’s chief executive Graham Collins fears. 

“There are 25,000 invisible carers in the East End who don’t seek reward or recognition themselves — they see care as their duty or simply do it out of love for a family member or friend.  

“It is now time they become visible. The economic and social costs to us all would be huge without carers.” 

The hours spent looking after a family member unable to care for themselves shot up during the pandemic, the Carers Centre said, and many essential support services and day centres were closing — even before lockdowns. 

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Most carers were already spending 50 hours or more a week looking after a relative or friend, the Carers Trust national charity points out. 

Coronavirus "made a bad situation even worse" in the deprived East End, with one in six carers having to work an extra 40 hours a week on top of what they had been doing.  

The Tower Hamlets Carers Centre in Brayford Square has been supporting 3,000 unpaid carers through the Covid pandemic.

Now it is appealing for public help to buy essential household items like fridges and washing machines that are unaffordable. 

It also wants to raise funds for activities to bring unpaid carers together to tackle isolation and to provide grants for respite breaks while the person they care for is being looked after. 

Unpaid carers needing a helping hand or anyone who knows of a carer facing isolation is being urged to go online to the Care Trust, while wellwishers can also do their bit to Support Carers Trust online