Tackle the carers' crisis

The number of people looking after a family member, neighbour or friend with cancer is rising. There are now almost one and a half million cancer carers in the UK.

What's the problem?

  • Almost 1.5 million people in the UK look after a friend or family member with cancer.
  • More than half of carers aren’t getting the support they need.
  • Carers are spending an average of 17.5 hours a week looking after a loved one with cancer.

Sign our petition today to make sure cancer carers don't have to cope alone.

Many people don’t see themselves as carers and often aren’t identified by health and social care professionals. This means they miss out on vital emotional, financial or practical support and don’t know where to turn for help.

Without support many carers struggle to cope. Their finances, family life and ability to work can all be affected. Many suffer from problems such as stress, anxiety and depression. No one should have to cope on their own when caring for someone with cancer.

What you can do

Later this year, a new Carers’ Strategy for England will be published which sets out how carers will be supported over the next five years. Right now, the government is consulting on what the strategy should say. Now is our chance to make a difference. Sign our petition today.

Our carers campaign aims to make sure everyone caring for someone with cancer gets the support they need. We’ve made some great progress so far but we need to do more.

Paul's story

'It never struck me at first that I had become a carer. You just know that your wife is ill, so you start doing things for her, for the house – without realising that you have become a carer.'

'Life as a carer is very hard and at times it is an unbelievably lonely experience. As a carer, you can’t afford to cave in. But I got very close to it on several occasions. I’m not sure I could cope alone.'

'We went from the point of feeling helpless and lonely to suddenly having an organisation there. Had we not been put in touch with them at the hospital, we might’ve still been floundering along. The support they give you means you’re not facing all these difficult situations by yourself.'

Paul cared for his wife after she was diagnosed with cancer

'It never struck me at first that I had become a carer.'

Sharon's story

‘There needs to be more that people can access easily,’ says Sharon. 'When we first found out my mum was ill – I thought where do I start? I didn’t see myself as a carer so taking that on board and finding support was hard.’

Sharon, who was already caring for her son, had to change her working hours to make sure she could be there for her mum too, which has had a real impact on family finances. She says more needs to be done to make sure cancer carers are recognised and provided for.

'It’s been hard financially as it’s had an impact on what we do as a family in the long term.' she says.

Sharon helps her mum pack the shopping at a supermarket

‘There needs to be more that people can access easily.’

The campaign so far

In the run up to the Care Act 2014 we campaigned to make sure this England only legislation contained new measures to improve the identification and signposting of carers to support. You can see some of the things we campaigned to change in our report, Do you care? [PDF, 1.92 MB]. In it we call on the government, NHS England and other decision makers to prioritise carers. 

On 1 April 2015, the Care Act 2014 and statutory guidance came into effect. Under the guidance, local authorities and health bodies in England must work together to identify carers. This is important because the first step to making sure people caring for someone with cancer get the support they need is to recognise them as carers. 

As with any law, it only makes a difference if it’s put into practice. We will continue to work on this issue to make sure all those caring for someone with cancer get the support they need.

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