HARROGATE and Ripon’s growing number of unpaid carers are being urged to make their voice count in this weekend’s census – or run the risk of losing out on future support.
The Carers’ Resource, a local charity which has helped more than 12,000 people since its launch 15 years ago, said the headcount exercise provided a unique opportunity to measure the valuable contribution made by carers.
Genuine occupations in the 1921 census included backwasher, blubberer, carrotter, pug hunter, gongman, and cordwainer. Ninety years on, the latest census gives carers the chance to register their ‘hidden’ contribution to society – with the results directly influencing decisions about services they use.
Now, just days before census forms start dropping through the district’s letterboxes, the charity’s offices at North Park Road, Harrogate, and Allhallowgate, Ripon, are spearheading a ‘Think Carer, Tick Carer’ campaign urging carers to flag up their role when they take part in the UK’s biggest population survey.
It hopes to combat under representation of carers and better reflect the size of the carers’ community in 2011.
Founder of the award-winning Yorkshire charity, Anne Smyth, said carers had a key contribution to make to ensure they receive the support they require in the future: “We have the opportunity of finding out exactly how many carers there are and how many hours of unpaid care they provide each week.
“We have fought hard to keep this question in the survey – and want to make sure that it is answered as fully as possible by as many carers as possible. It is their chance to make a real difference and we don’t want this question – like carers – to remain hidden.
The Carers’ Resource predicts that the figures for the number of carers, and the support and care they provide, will be far higher than many imagine – or the 6.5m figure that arose from the last census a decade ago, which greatly exceeded Government estimates.
A carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help. This could be caring for a relative, partner or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or substance misuse problems.
Anyone can become a carer; carers come from all walks of life, all cultures and can be of any age. Many feel they are doing what anyone else would in the same situation; looking after their mother, son, or best friend and just getting on with it.
Anne added: “We all know someone who cares for a loved one – it may be a family member, friend or neighbour – but all too often they do not recognise themselves and the pivotal role they play.
“Carers don’t choose to become carers: it just happens and they have to get on with it; if they did not do it, who would and what would happen to the person they care for?
“Whether they fill in the form online or in the post, it is very important that in the 2011 census they tick the box and state the hours of care they provide.”
Those people who register as carers on the census, as well as those seeking advice if they are unsure they are, are encouraged to contact the Carers’ Resource on 01423 500555 or 01765 690222 and enrol on their database for future support.