Tackle the carers' crisis

Do you care about carers? We are campaigning to make sure the almost 1.5 million people in the UK who look after a family member, friend or neighbour with cancer get the support they need.

What's the problem?

  • The number of people looking after someone with cancer in the UK has soared from around 1.1 million in 2011 to almost 1.5 million today.
  • More than half of carers aren’t getting the support they need and the situation is getting worse.
  • Around 110,000 people in the UK are part of a sandwich generation of carers - caring for a parent with cancer while also looking after their own children.

The growing strain

Our new report ‘Under Pressure: the growing strain on cancer carers’ shows how friends, family members and neighbours who look after someone with cancer are coming under more pressure than ever before. The report looks at how the experience of cancer carers has changed over the last 5 years.

What this means for carers

Carers are now providing more hours of care and undertaking more complex caring tasks. Despite this, carers are still missing out on support with over half not receiving any help at all.

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. They may even reach breaking point and become ill themselves.

Many people don’t see themselves as carers and often aren’t identified by health and social care professionals. This means they aren’t told about the support that’s available and don’t know where to turn for help. No one should have to cope on their own when caring for someone with cancer.

Estimated number of cancer carers across the UK
Estimated number of cancer carers across the UK

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Find out more

Our new platform is the place for people living with cancer, or supporting or working with people affected by cancer, to share their stories and support our campaigns for change.

What we are doing for carers across the UK

Wherever you live in the UK we are campaigning to improve the support carers receive. 


In 2016 Macmillan campaigned to make sure the government’s new Carers Strategy for England would give cancer carers the support they need. A huge number of campaigners got involved, with over 15,000 people signing our petition and 400 carers sharing their experiences of supporting someone with cancer. Thank you to everyone who took action.

On 5 June 2018 the government published their new 2 year Carers Action plan, including the announcement that Health Education England (HEE) will work with carers and charities to develop training to better support carers.

This is a big win for the campaign, as a lack of appropriate training or support is something that came out very strongly in the experiences cancer carers shared.

But we don’t think that the plan goes far enough. Find out more in our article.

With your help, we also successfully campaigned to make sure the Care Act (2014) improved the identification of and signposting to support for people looking after a loved one with cancer. Read more about our campaign successes.

We continue to campaign to make sure cancer carers get the support they need. Join us today.

15,115 campaigners signed our petition.



In Scotland, Macmillan worked with other charities to influence the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016. This new law should mean more carers get a ‘Carer’s Support Plan’ to give them social and financial help.

Now that this has been passed into law by the Scottish Parliament, we’ll work closely with the new Integrated Joint Boards across Scotland to make sure it’s put into practice.

Find out more about our work in Scotland

Macmillan worked with other charities to influence the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016.


Wales/ Cymru

Macmillan worked with the Wales Carers Alliance to help influence a major new law in Wales - the Social Services & Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

It’s a big step forward and means all carers in Wales will now get an assessment of their needs as carers, regardless of the type or amount of caring they do, as well as receiving information and advice or a support plan.

We’ll keep on working with the Wales Carers Alliance, the Welsh Government and carers themselves to make sure this new law makes a difference for cancer carers in Wales.

Find out more about our work in Wales.


Mae Macmillan wedi gweithio gyda Chyngrair Gofalwyr Cymru i helpu i ddylanwadu ar gyfraith bwysig newydd yng Nghymru – Deddf Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol a Llesiant (Cymru) 2014.

Mae’n gam mawr ymlaen ac mae’n golygu y bydd yr holl ofalwyr yng Nghymru bellach yn cael asesiad o’u hanghenion fel gofalwyr, waeth pa fath neu faint o ofalu y maent yn ei wneud, yn ogystal â chael gwybodaeth a chyngor neu gynllun cymorth.

Byddwn yn parhau i weithio gyda Chynghrair Gofalwyr Cymru, Llywodraeth Cymru a’r gofalwyr eu hunain er mwyn sicrhau bod y gyfraith newydd hon yn gwneud gwahaniaeth i ofalwyr canser yng Nghymru.

Gallwch ganfod mwy am ein gwaith yng Nghymru.


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is currently the only region of the UK without recent legislation to improve support for carers. 

To change this we have joined with other charities in a new Carers Coalition to raise awareness of the huge contribution made by people caring for family members and friends in order to push for change. 

Macmillan wants to see everyone who cares for someone with cancer in Northern Ireland identified and directed to support.

Find out more about our work in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is currently the only region of the UK without recent legislation to improve support for carers.



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.'


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.


Share your story

Have you been affected?

Sharing your experience can help support our campaigns. Please get in touch if you'd like to share your story.

Email us.