As we team up with Carers UK to help unpaid carers across the country, we hear one carer’s story
By Virgin Media
Did you know there are over 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK? While they’re looking after their loved ones, carers are also vulnerable to loneliness and mental health issues such as depression (8 in 10 carers have felt lonely or isolated as a result of looking after a loved one.)
Carers Week was created to shine a light on the many invisible carers that don’t often get the help, recognition or resources they need. It was also created to help those with caring responsibilities who may not view themselves as carers to access relevant information and support. That’s why this year Carers Week has the campaign theme Make Caring Visible and Valued.
Last year, Virgin Media and the charity Carers UK launched a £2m partnership to help end the loneliness many unpaid carers experience, by facilitating meaningful connections to ensure that they stay in touch with friends and local support communities, as well as meeting others in a similar situation. They have created a special video for Carers Week which you can view here.
To find out more about Carer’s Week and how you can get involved, visit this page.
We spoke to one carer, Hitesh, to find out his story:
I was looking after my mum and dad for many years. When my dad passed away in 2014 that’s when it got intense and I needed to step up my game.
My mum suffers from chronic kidney disease, osteoarthritis and short-term memory loss due to dementia. As well as having to do the cooking and cleaning, it means I have to keep an eye on her diet, ensure she’s doing some exercise each day and take her to her doctor’s appointments. I also have to help her navigate all the many confusions and issues that arise with dementia.
I didn’t know where to look for help and information to cope with all this. So I just carried on firefighting. Stress and depression crept up very slowly and affected me in a big way. Trying to find a partner was out of the question, my love life was non-existent. Even friends started to disappear one by one, I never had time to meet for dinner or drinks, especially during the pandemic. I gave up my job working in the corporate world, as caring took precedence over everything.
The beginning of lockdown was quite tough, especially because we had to shield. Mum loves her food shopping and to deny her this and tell her she couldn’t go out was really heartbreaking. Watching the news was really worrying and I developed insomnia. So, in the end I said to mum “let’s not watch it”, so it wouldn’t be floating in my mind when I went to bed. We used video chat to speak to family, such as my brother who lives in Canada. Lockdown ended up being a blessing in disguise, as all the time spent indoors gave me the idea for creating my own Facebook Live sessions once a week, where I give tips to carers and answer any questions they have.
I’m currently a coach and mentor other carers, too, it’s given me my freedom and sanity back. I’ve also used meditation and a bit of Tai Chi, which helps me bring my energy up. Mum and I take it in turns cooking and that gives her a purpose. We do some gardening together as well; we planted some sunflower seeds this year – it was lovely watching them grow. It’s a combination of all of those things that helps me feel a sense of gratitude and connectedness.
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.