Swanswell calls on more government help for ‘hidden’ carers

10 June 2013

Swanswell’s calling on the government to do more to help carers of people affected by alcohol and drug misuse.

The national recovery charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is lending its voice to join thousands of other organisations across the country in support of Carers Week from 10 to 16 June 2013.

Carers Week is a national campaign recognising and celebrating the contribution that over six-and-a-half million UK carers make to the lives of millions of people but as around 6,000 people begin caring every day, it’s asking whether people have the support they need.

This years’ theme is ‘Prepared to care?’ and will focus on how the current carer population is coping, how effectively Government is supporting the growing number of carers, and whether the wider population is prepared for future caring responsibilities.

It’s thought around 1.4 million people are affected by a relative’s drug use – that doesn’t include those affected by someone else’s alcohol misuse because it’s harder to quantify. Despite this, these carers aren’t entitled to the same help that others are.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘Carers often tell us how isolating and emotionally difficult it is to look after a loved one affected by alcohol or drug misuse, especially if they don’t know where to go for help.

With at least a quarter of the UK’s carers looking after family or friends affected by drug misuse – and many more affected by someone’s alcohol misuse – we don’t think enough is being done on a national scale to support increasing numbers.

So we’re calling on the government to do more for carers, so that everyone in a caring role is entitled to the support they deserve, because without them, the country would face an extra £747 million a year on top of the health and social care budget.

Swanswell’s long recognised the need for better support for people caring for a friend or relative affected by substance misuse, which is why in 2010, it launched its carer support service in Barnsley, as part of the town’s integrated treatment system.

It offers emotional and practical support for carers, ranging from financial advice regarding carers allowance applications, to help with understanding a loved one’s treatment and recovery.

Jeni Upperdine, Senior Practitioner at Swanswell’s carer support service in Barnsley, said: ‘Swanswell’s carer support service provides much needed support for people who are affected by a friend or relative’s substance misuse, helping them move forward with their life while supporting a loved one through their journey towards recovery.’

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