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As we team up with Carers UK to help unpaid carers across the country, we hear one person’s story

By Virgin Media

Did you know more than one million Virgin Media customers in Britain provide care for loved ones, friends and neighbours who are older, disabled or seriously ill? But while they’re helping those closest to them, they’re also seven times more likely to be lonely than the average person (58% admit they have felt isolated from friends and family).

With these carers struggling due to closed respite services, difficulty accessing doctor’s appointments and a lack of interaction with people outside their households, the pandemic has compounded these issues.

 

Virgin Media and the charity Carers UK are now launching a £2m partnership which aims to end the loneliness carers experience by helping them connect to each other and their communities in ways that are easier than ever.

 

Census 2021 is taking place on Sunday 21 March and we want to ensure that everyone who is providing care to someone identifies as an unpaid carer when completing their form.

 

If you look after, help, or support someone who couldn’t manage without your care, tick yes to question 24 (or question 22 in Northern Ireland). This will help inform decisions on services that shape our communities, such as healthcare, education, transport, and services for carers. For more information about filling in your form as an unpaid carer, visit this page.

 

We spoke to one carer, Liz, to find out her story:

 

My husband Carl has got a heart condition and diabetes. He uses a breathing machine at night and he’s also got a personality disorder. He had his first heart attack when he was 47 and had to retire from work in communications for a utility company.

 

I worked in retail [before becoming his carer]. I became his carer when he retired. Since then, he’s nearly died seven times. We’ve been told to say goodbye to him seven times, but he’s still here!

 

We were locked down on 3 March last year, before most people were. My husband’s breathing nurse said “you really do need to stay at home”. If my husband got COVID, he wouldn’t survive.

 

We met in 1971 and got married in November 1972. Carl has got a positive attitude, he’s always smiling. That’s helped.

 

My vicar said to me: “Most of you don’t see yourselves as unpaid carers. You see yourselves as wives or husbands, mothers, daughters, sons. You do it for love.” And she’s right. People should think whether they’re an unpaid carer.

 

We’re lucky that we’ve got a big garden we can get out in. My husband’s an artist. He’s been drawing and painting on wood and putting them on our fence to make people smile as they go past. But it’s been tough not having any physical contact with anyone. Since the first lockdown last year, my husband’s been out of the gate five times. One of those times was for his vaccination.

 

I have lots of friends through church who are really good. They’re very supportive. What I used to do before the pandemic was have one day out a week where I’d meet up with friends – but now I can’t do that.

 

Another thing we also have is our faith. We’re lucky in that way, because a lot of people don’t. We’ve always had that. That’s helped ever so much.

 

I don’t Zoom, because that would make me feel more isolated. I send out a morning prayer at 5:30am every morning to 150 people through email, text or WhatsApp. And lots of people reply to that. That means I get up and have a routine, which keeps me connected to the outside world. Other people tell me they feel connected through that, too.

 

Virgin Media & Carers UK

Find out how we’re teaming up with Carers UK to help build meaningful connections to help make life better for 1 million carers by the end of 2025.

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