Crossroads Care Surrey, a charity operating across the whole of Surrey for over 40 years, has announced the key rights it wants for all unpaid carers to mark Carers’ Rights Day on 23 November. The charity has flagged the right to have a break from caring and the right to employment and fair income as the most impactful issues for the people it supports.
In the UK, there are 13.6 million unpaid carers – over 7 million of whom are in employment. Out of the 120,000 Surrey residents who are unpaid carers, one in seven juggling work with caring and many more have no respite at all from their caring responsibilities, which save the public purse an estimated £2billion per year in Surrey alone.
CEO Terry Hawkins says, “Time for rest and relaxation – and the opportunity to earn money in steady employment or receive fair financial support – are basic needs that we all have a right to expect. The sad reality for many people is that this is not the case. Those who are providing unpaid care to a loved one face even greater barriers to having any downtime or being able to commit to a paid role. We believe this is unfair. It is negatively impacting on the health of carers and people are being pushed deeper into difficult financial circumstances as a result.”
The right to respite, rest and relaxation
In a recent survey by Carers.org, 68% of respondents said they could not access respite when they needed it. Many unpaid carers desperately need a break and this was highlighted as one of the top three support needs identified by those surveyed. For most, care is given selflessly with little or no training. Disrupted sleep and increased physical tasks – often combined with the mental load of trying to juggle running a home, parenting, supporting other family members or working in a paid role – can leave unpaid carers feeling anxious and exhausted.
Crossroads Care Surrey helps unpaid carers through the provision of replacement care breaks in their own homes or local communities. They provide each family with a familiar and trusted support worker to step in on a regular basis, giving unpaid carers some much-needed downtime when they can truly relax.
Mrs D, one of the people CCS supports, cares for her husband who has Alzheimer’s. They are both in their 80s. Her daughter says, “It breaks my heart to think that there are people who can’t get a break. Mum and I have had the opportunity to spend quality time together knowing that dad is looked after by people that really care.”
Mrs C, an unpaid carer to her son who has hydrocephalus, epilepsy and learning difficulties, says, “We’ve had CCS support for ten years now. I don’t know what I would do without them. It means I can stay at home, socialise with friends… just get some time for me.”
The right to steady employment and support in the workplace
Rights for unpaid carers are – quite rightly and deservedly – increasing within the workplace, however employers may need support to understand and fully implement their legal responsibilities. CCS shares good practice and advice through its online Employers’ Hub for Unpaid Caring – a free and accessible online tool which helps companies identify carers within their own workforce and provides guidance to help them support carers in the daily challenges they face. Simple measures such as adjusting working hours or giving time off for carers to support at appointments can mean the difference between retaining experienced, skilled staff members or losing them through stress, exhaustion or worries about their performance. Businesses can boost productivity and job satisfaction, at the same time as reducing unnecessary recruitment and training costs.
For carers, a chance to work and continue to build a career can improve their mental health, their current and future earnings. Remaining in employment can help them lead economically active, fulfilling lives and to maintain their own self-identity. In the workplace, carers can engage in supportive relationships with their colleagues, preventing isolation.
Caring for someone at home can greatly add to the cost of living, e.g. the energy needed to keep someone warm who may be unable to move, or paying for medication and specialist equipment. Carers Allowance is currently only £76 per week – far lower than the living wage – and is not available to all unpaid carers, for example those who claim a pension.
CCS client J says, “I’ve been able to do some part-time work thanks to Crossroads’ support for my wife. I notice it and everyone has mentioned the difference it has made to me, not being tied to the house and not just thinking about caring for my wife. I’ve got something that’s keeping me stimulated.”
Please visit crossroadscaresurrey.org.uk to:
- Access the benefits from Crossroads Care Surrey’s support
- Get free, professional access to the CCS Employers’ Hub
- Help Surrey’s unpaid carers by making a donation or getting involved
Notes to editors
For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
About Crossroads Care Surrey
- Read the full CQC report
- Crossroads Care Surrey has supported unpaid carers for more than 40 years.
- The charity was inspired by the 1960-80s TV soap ‘Crossroads’, in which lead character Meg Richardson supported her paraplegic wheelchair-user son, Sandy. TV production company ATV gifted £10,000 to set up the first Crossroads charity for carers in Rugby. Today’s Surrey-based charity is a development of that history, and there are other ‘Crossroads’ across the country.
- We are a charity. We receive some statutory funding but we need to raise £480,000 each year to deliver our services.
- An unpaid carer is someone who supports a family member or friend who cannot perform day-to-day tasks for themselves independently, without payment.
- During their lifetime, two out of three people can expect to become a carer for a friend or family member.
- We support carers of all ages (including children and young carers), who are supporting someone of any age, from babies upwards.
- Our services include:
- Respite carer breaks
- Companionship visits
- End-of-life support
- A free online Carer’s Directory
- A free Carer’s Card, providing ID and access to discounts for local services, products, and activities.
- A free Emergency Care Plan, allowing peace of mind that the cared-for person will be appropriately supported if the carer is unexpectedly unable to care.
- 8 percent of Surrey’s population are unpaid carers; around 120,000 people.
- There are unpaid carers in every Surrey community. Caring responsibilities can affect any family at any time, regardless of age, wealth, or other factors.
- In 2023, Crossroads Care Surrey is supporting more than 1,200 families –our care has a wide impact as the charity’s support also impacts positively on the carer, on the person each of them cares for, and their families.
- A carer may not realise they are doing that role for a long time – often until they reach a crisis point. We support people to identify themselves as a carer through our ‘Am I a Carer?’ questionnaire.
- Being a carer can severely impact on a person’s mental and physical well-being, their ability to work and their earning power. Other family members may also experience an impact, e.g. a parent who is an unpaid carer may have to prioritise the needs of the cared-for person over others in the family home.
- To find out more about accessing Crossroads Care Surrey’s care, to get involved or to donate please visit crossroadscaresurrey.org.uk.
About National Carers’ Rights Day
National Carers’ Rights Day is led by Carers UK. It is supported annually by hundreds of organisations across the UK. It raises awareness of the challenges unpaid carers face and to campaign on issues including: improved access to healthcare and support services; fair financial recompense for the services carers provide; protection and flexibility in their paid jobs; and recognition of the importance and impact of an unpaid caring role.