Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. In this blog post, we explore how the feelings of loneliness and isolation faced by carers in the UK are also experienced by carers we work with in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
The 2017 report of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness found that 81% of UK carers felt ‘lonely or socially isolated’ as a result of their caring responsibilities. Carers reported feeling uncomfortable talking to friends or other family members about their caring role, and many carers felt their loneliness and social isolation arose as a result of a lack of money and free time due to caring responsibilities.
At Carers Worldwide we understand the loneliness and isolation facing carers in the UK as we see parallels with the carers we work with in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. All too often, carers are invisible members of their communities, and often even their own families, having little or no opportunity to participate in socialising opportunities and having limited free time to themselves. When we first identify carers in the project areas throughout the countries where we operate, they are typically withdrawn from society with up to 79% of them experiencing anxiety and depression, like their counterparts in the UK.
To combat loneliness, we bring carers together in local self-help groups so that they can make friends and provide each other with the emotional support that they have been missing and needing. Even during the current times of COVID-19 we have been continuing that support, working hard to connect carers in their groups virtually so that they can maintain this crucial contact with one another.
One of our current projects that highlights the importance of tackling isolation and transforming social wellbeing is the “Promoting Social and Economic Empowerment of Carers by Strengthening women-led Carers Associations” project which we are implementing in the remote districts of Baglung and Myagdi in western Nepal through our partner LEADS Nepal and with funding from a UK Aid Direct Jo Cox Memorial Grant.
“I was isolated before I joined the self-help group. I had no confidence and was anxious at the thought of talking. Now I am an active group member and enjoy participating in discussions and trying to find solutions to improve the lives of carers” – female carer, Baglung, Nepal
As well as bringing carers together in groups, we raise awareness about caring and the role of carers within communities, encouraging those communities to become more open and inclusive towards carers, and those they care for.
If you would like to know more about Carers Week, take a look at their website.