THERE are 50,000 people in Dorset who care for a loved one facing ill health or disability.
As the population ages, the number of carers is rising and without the right help it can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.
The Echo went to meet a group of local carers at Dorset County Hall to find out more.
They revealed how carers can quickly become cut off, with their physical and emotional health, work and finances all hit hard.
From Dorchester resident Roger Tapply, whose wife was diagnosed with dementia at just 65 years old, to Pat Vinycomb, who cared for her eldest daughter before she sadly died at 25, the group spoke of how difficult, lonely and devastating looking after a loved-one full-time can be.
Among their concerns were issues about the rural challenges in Dorset, employment, gender roles, health and wellbeing, financial worries and where to go to get help.
Cllr Jill Haynes, Cabinet member for adult social care, said: “Dorset’s army of carers, young and old, do vital work in our communities caring for loved ones as part of their daily lives.
“Carers are the unsung heroes, often caring without realising the difference they are making and are not always aware of the help and support that is available for them.
“We want to encourage carers in Dorset to come along to one of the many events across the county, meet other carers and find out more about a range of services available to support them.
“People do not need to cope alone.
“If you are unable to leave the person you care for, please contact the Adult Access team who may be able to arrange a support worker.”
She said that a total of 33,000 people in Dorset had disabled blue parking badges and urged people to remember that a carer could be looking after an adult or a child.
She added: “There is never room to be complacent – Dorset services do care but we don’t get it right all the time.”
She said the new Care Bill, which was waiting on Royal Assent, would mean that an assessment of the 50,000 carers would have to be carried out.
“This is a huge task, as we don’t know how many are self-funding.”
Across the UK one in eight people cares for a loved one who is older, disabled or terminally or seriously ill.
Dorset will pay tribute to its unsung heroes during this year’s National Carers’ Week, June 9-15. Here is a list of Dorset based events to mark Carers Week. The events run from 10am to 2pm and include free lunch or refreshments
North Dorset: Wednesday 11 June, Gillingham Methodist Church Hall
West Dorset: Monday, June, 9 Bridport Arts Centre
Dorchester: Tuesday, June 10, Dorchester Day Centre Acland Road, Dorchester
Christchurch: Tuesday, June 10, Somerford Community Centre, Southley Road, Christchurch
East Dorset: Thursday, June 12, St Mary’s Church, Church Road, Ferndown
Weymouth: Friday, June 6, Weymouth Community Fire Station, Radipole Road, Weymouth.
Purbeck: Friday, June 13 All Saint’s Church Hall, Ulwell Road, Swanage