Celebrate the valuable contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers and create communities that support their needs, charities are urging as preparations get underway for Carers Week 2017 (12-18 June).

Eight major charities, including Carers UK, Age UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Motor Neuron Disease Association, have joined together to get communities involved in the national awareness event aimed at recognising carers’ efforts and addressing the challenges they face, including stress, financial hardship, ill health and other issues.

The scheme will see thousands of events being held in communities across the UK, engaging the support of individuals, local organisations, businesses, politicians and the media.

The theme for the 2017 event is building Carer Friendly Communities – places that understand the lives of carers and how they can be made easier, for example by employers providing flexible hours to support carers to carry out their responsibilities.

David Mowat MP joined with representatives from the Carers Week charities, NHS, local government and business to launch community engagement for the event.

Mowat said: “Carers make an invaluable contribution to society – and I was delighted to join colleagues in promoting Carer Friendly communities. We are already working hard to support them and have introduced huge reforms, including a duty for local authorities to assess any carer who requires support. But we can all play a part to make sure our communities are carer friendly – I commend the Carers Week campaign to raise awareness of this vital issue.

Heléna Herklots CBE of Carers UK said: “Carers Week is a fantastic way to celebrate the vital contribution carers make to our families, communities and wider society. We know that caring for a loved one can be a rewarding experience, but without the right support at the right time, caring can also have a huge impact on a carer’s emotional and physical health, work and finances.

“Carers have told us that it makes a huge difference to their lives when they are supported by their local services and communities… We want the public to recommend Carer Friendly communities and urge everyone to pledge their support to carers and make a change.”

Pictured: L-R: Michelle Mitchell OBE (MS Society), Kate Hill (Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition), Neil Churchill (NHS England), Tom Wright (Age UK) Alex Hayman (Which? Elderly Care), Janet Morrison (Independent Age), Laura Bennett (Carers Trust), Sally Light (MNDA); (seated at table L-R): Margaret Willcox OBE (ADASS), Olga Budimir (carer), Heléna Herklots CBE (Carers UK), David Mowat MP, Cllr Graham Gibbens (member of Local Government Association and Kent County Council)

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