Launching Carers Week 2017 by Michelle Mitchell

Family and carers can make living with MS easier. They’re who we turn to when things are tough. They support us when we’re tired and listen to us when we’re sad. They also remind us of silly childhood stories – sometimes to our embarrassment.

We all agree that families and carers are brilliant, so every year we celebrate them. That’s why I went to Westminster this morning to launch the discussions about Carers Week with seven other major charities.

What is Carers Week?

Carers Week is a national awareness week that celebrates the contribution carers make.

There are an amazing 6.5 million people across the UK who provide unpaid care for a disabled, ill or older family member or friend.

According to our research, 85% of people with MS received some level of unpaid care, support or assistance from family and friends in 2016. That’s an incredible number of people!

This year, Carers Week will take place between 12 and 18 June with the theme ‘Building a carer-friendly community’.

>> Find out how you can get involved in Carers Week.

What happened in Westminster?

Together with the Minister for Community Health and Care, representatives from health organisations like NHS England and carers themselves, we talked about how we can build a carer-friendly community.

We discussed how all parts of the community can support carers with their health, education and employment.

Caring can be a rewarding experience, but many carers need extra help to maintain their health, wellbeing and finances. Carers Week is an opportunity to talk about these issues and encourage our communities to be carer-friendly.

Caring for carers

One of the great things about heading up the MS Society is that I get to meet carers from all walks of life.

Carers are a varied group - everyone can have some caring responsibilities during their lives. Many don’t even see themselves as carers either – they’re ‘just getting on with it.’ However, identifying as a carer is an important first step to getting support.

Whatever level of care you give, it’s important to look after yourself. Having a Carers’ Assessment helps to secure the support you need to maintain your wellbeing and keep caring for as long as you feel able.

We also have dedicated support and information for families and carers on our website.

Caring changes

MS is a condition that changes all the time and so do the needs of people with MS. That means the needs of their carers change too.

That’s why we’re campaigning to make sure the right support is in place to reflect these fluctuating needs. We’re calling on governments throughout the UK to ensure that care, support and financial assistance for carers is readily available.

>> Help us campaign for better support for carers by sharing your story of caring. Contact us at campaigns@mssociety.org.uk

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