A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who (due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction) cannot cope without their support.
You may have found yourself in a caring role suddenly; someone you love is taken ill or has an accident, your child is born with a disability. For others, caring creeps up unnoticed: your parents can’t manage on their own any longer, your daughter's drug dependency increasingly affects her ability to take care of herself or her children.
You may not identify with or particularly like the term 'carer' and that is absolutely fine. We are not here to label you; we want to ensure you have access to the right support and information when you need it most.
We recognise that you are all individuals and will manage your caring responsibilities differently with unique external and internal factors and influences. The information, advice and support you need will be personal to you. This is even more relevant if you are a young carer or a kinship carer as the support available and national policy and guidance are developed for these individual roles.
The cost of caring
When you start looking after a loved one, your role and that of the person you are supporting has changed. In order to cope with these changes, your relationship will need to adjust. This can be very difficult at first as both of you struggle to reassign yourselves. Becoming a carer can evoke many emotions in you that are difficult to accept and even understand.
It is not unusual to feel a sense of loss for your past life or bitterness towards your new situation. These are perfectly natural feelings that you do not have to feel guilty about. Of course caring for a loved one is hugely rewarding but you can still feel trapped, lonely and frustrated from time to time (or all the time) and that is okay. There is support available locally that can help; they understand and can empathise with how you are feeling and guide you through your new or changed role.
Acknowledging your feelings and discussing them is a vital step in the caring process and can be very helpful in developing and maintaining your new relationship. You may find it helpful to talk through these emotions with someone. Find local services that can support you and move closer to taking care of yourself whilst taking care of your loved ones.
Taking on caring responsibilities isn't easy, what you are doing is making a huge contribution not only to your loved ones but to the wider community and to health and social care.
Here are some locals who like many of us recognise and value what you are doing:
Steph McGovern, television presenter:
George Friend, Middlesbrough FC Captain:
Andy Preston, Town Mayor:
Mark Adams, Joint Director of Public Health South Tees: