ONE in eight people across the UK are carers, and many more don’t even realise they are.
People who devote their time looking after a family member, loved one, friend or neighbour are those the first North Lancashire Carers Conference hopes to find.
The event, next Tuesday at The Crofters Hotel, Garstang, aims to provide support and information for carers.
Carers Point! which has organised the event, has secured guest speaker Richard Jones, director of adult services at Lancashire County Council, who is a trustee of Carers UK.
Lorraine Jones, carers development officer for Carers Point! managed by n-compass North West, said: “After the census in 2001, it was estimated £87bn a year was saved by carers, and in 2011 this had gone up to £119bn.
“But we know this is an underestimate, because a lot of people don’t realise they are carers, or don’t consider themselves to be carers.
“We have around 3,000 carers on our database, but know there are people we’ve yet to reach, who might want help, and don’t know where to go.
“We have tried to make the conference, themed In Sickness and In Health, something which is useful for carers and those they are caring for.”
Among those attending will be carer Roger Pursglove.
The 63-year-old, from Great Eccleston, has been caring for his wife Jane, who has mental health issues, for 25 years. Although Jane now lives in sheltered accommodation, Roger is still very much involved in her care on a daily basis.
He said: “It is quite a struggle, in the sense you never know what to expect. Unlike a physical disability, where it’s a routine of care, with mental health issues, it’s unpredictable.
“Something like this affects the whole family, and you find out who your real friends are. People drift away because they don’t know what to say, or how to help.
“I gave up work in 1999 to care full-time, and getting help from organisations like Carers Point! has really helped, mostly with information, and showing what help is available, and where from.
“It also helped to find out about getting a break for me, which helps enhance Jane’s life. The forums and websites are also helpful.”
Also attending the event will be Jenny Parr, from Cleveleys, who is carer for her son Simon, who has autism and mental health problems.
The 69-year-old said: “It’s hard to say what it’s like, because it’s such a kaleidoscope of things. The complication is the fact it is autism with mental health problems, and people struggle with where one finishes and the other starts. I started to suffer panic attacks, there was nothing I could do, no real relief.
“It was great to have the help from organisations like Carers Point! “I’ve also accessed some of the activities and it’s really good to be able to talk to people in similar situations – people who understand.”
As well as information about services available, Carers Point! aims to give carers a voice and help them find time for themselves.
For information about Carers Point! or the conference, call 0345 688 7113, or log on to www.ncompassnorthwest.co.uk.