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Caring for Carers

  • 700,000 families in the UK care for people with dementia.

  • 40 percent look after the person they care for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Find out about the support offered by Irish in Britain’s Cuimhne Carers Project HERE.

The 2011 Census identified the Irish as having an older aged profile than any other ethnic group in Britain. Out of 500,000 in the group, 204,000 were over the age of 60 with a further 80,000 between the ages of 50 and 60 years. In the census 11 percent of the Irish community identified as being a family carer–many carers are elders with health needs themselves. Irish in Britain expects that when the next Census takes place in 2021 these figures will show an increase.

Family and friends in our community may take up the role of caring for someone without considering themselves under a label of “carer”. Rather people may just see themselves as a nephew, partner, daughter, husband, friend stepping up to do what they can for a person they love. 

Irish Travellers have among the highest if not the highest levels of informal caring in England and Wales. Sometimes people may find themselves under pressure to reduce or give up paid work to look after someone as support needs increase. While this may be done willingly, people may experience significant loss of income and financial difficulties. 

Where a person decides to register officially as a Carer of a family member or friend, they can apply for a Carers Allowance of £66.15 a week. This is only if they care for the person for at least 35 hours a week, which rules out some family carers. People do not receive more Carers Allowance money where they care for more than one person.

Carers can find that where they may be increasingly relied upon by the person they care for, it may be difficult to take time out for themselves. People may find it difficult to attend community events they attended regularly in the past if they feel unable to bring along the person they care for. There can be the psychological difficulty of feeling guilty or worried about stepping away for a while from the person they care for, even if it for something that may benefit their caring role such as a carers peer support coffee morning or skills development workshop. Aside from such difficulties there are the practical difficulties of finding someone suitable to take over the caring role when they step out for a while.

Across our Irish networks, we can help by thinking about how we can create dementia–inclusive events where carers feel able to invite those they care for along. We may also be able to think about how travelling by public transport can sometimes make attending a two–hour meeting so much longer for a carer, and consider possible ways of connecting people driving in with people coming by public transport, saving people’s time so they do not have to worry about being away for too long from the person they care for.

We can also recognise the financial pressures people may feel hesitant about discussing and encourage people to consider grant schemes available that may support short–term respite care.

Many charities offer non–repayable grants to help individuals or families on low incomes who are in need.


Turn 2 Us Grants Search helps you find funds that may be able to help you based on your background, circumstances and needs. 

The Carers Trust gives grants of up to £300 for things which will support carers in their caring role, including training and education. A local Carers Trust Network Partner (Carers Centre or Crossroads Care Scheme) can make apply on behalf of individuals.

Ogilvie Charities gives grants to support respite holidays for carers. The primary aim is to give a complete break to a carer while the person cared for is receiving respite care. Applications for grants of £200 – £300 must be made through a social worker, community nurse or similar professional agency and payment is made direct to that agency.

The Respite Association funds suitably qualified carers to take over so that the usual carer can take a well–earned break. Most grants are for a few hundred pounds. Referrals can be made by caring organisations such as Crossroads Care or directly from Social Services on behalf of individuals or individuals themselves.

The Talisman Charitable Trust assist individuals “going short”, where applications and made for individuals by registered local authorities, Citizens’ Advice Bureaus and registered charities.