12,000 people in UK become unpaid carers every day

  • 4.3 million people take on an unpaid caring role every year
  • Research from the Centre for Care, at the University of Sheffield, highlights the large number of people transitioning in and out of caring roles every year.
  • On Carers Rights Day, charity Carers UK is calling for change in the way that unpaid carers are identified and supported

Around 12,000 people become unpaid carers every day in the UK, according to new research from the Centre for Care at the University of Sheffield

The new research, in collaboration with the charity Carers UK, for Carers Right Day (Thursday 24 November 2022), analysed data from 2010 to 2020 and shows that, on average,12,000 people in the UK become an unpaid carer every single day, or 84,000 each week.

In a year, more than 4.3 million people in the UK become an unpaid carer for an older, disabled or seriously ill relative or friend. Every year, approximately 2.3 million of these new unpaid carers are women, and 2 million are men.

More than 1.9 million people become unpaid carers whilst already balancing paid employment.

Researchers also found that 4 million people stop their unpaid caring roles every year, demonstrating that large numbers of people in the UK frequently transition in and out of caring roles every year.

Previous research by Professor Sue Yeandle, Director of the Centre for Care at the University of Sheffield, found that there were believed to be 570,000 unpaid carers in Yorkshire and the Humber alone. Unpaid carers who look after a family member or friend due to long term illness, disability or older age, often do not identify themselves as such, but instead consider themselves to be doing what many people would consider the kind of care a family member would undertake for their loved ones.

Liz Naylor, 70, from Sheffield and a full-time carer for my daughter who has Down’s Syndrome, a heart defect and epilepsy.

She said: “When my daughter was born and probably until she was in her late teens, I saw myself as her mum with additional responsibilities. From adulthood I realised that caring was a lifelong responsibility as we had to do a lot more planning, thinking, organising and looking after than one would normally undertake for adult children.

“The rewards are numerous – my daughter is a happy individual who enjoys her life and it brings us satisfaction to feel that we are helping her to achieve her best life; but the challenges are also numerous.”

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