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Carers Trust Wales is calling on political parties to listen to the voices of carers, after a survey revealed that around half of Welsh carers “don’t feel listened to” by politicians.

There are at least 370,000 home carers in Wales, representing 12 percent of the population, who provide unpaid care for vulnerable friends or family members.

Unpaid carers save the UK economy at least £119bn a year (2011 estimate), which is equal to £326 million a day and up by almost a third since 2007.

Estimates suggest that there are around 6.4 million people providing unpaid care for ill and disabled loved ones in the UK.

The survey by Carers Trust Wales also found that less than a third of carers have decided who they vote for in the May elections, meaning that ‘carers’ votes are very much up for grabs’.

According to the survey, issues that matter most to carers are the NHS, social services, transport and education – responsibility for which have been devolved to the Welsh Government.

Carers Trust Wales has called on political parties to provide:

  • Better support for carers to live, work, and learn in Wales
  • Better access to services and breaks for carers
  • Better recognition and support for carers of people with dementia
  • A better deal for young and young adult carers

Simon Hatch, Director of Carers Trust Wales, said “Wales is in a unique position when it comes to unpaid care, we have more carers proportionally than anywhere else in the UK, and they care for longer hours per week.

“It’s time that carers’ voices were heard and acted upon.

“We know carers are largely undecided about who they’ll vote for on 5 May, we also know that half of carers don’t feel listened to.

“Without carers our health and social care systems in Wales would collapse. This is the opportunity for political parties in Wales to make a real difference and promote, protect and recognise the vital work carers do.”

Steven Griffiths, a carer, said “I’m a carer for my father. I’ve looked after him and, until recently, my mother for almost six years.

“It’s very hard being a carer and I feel confident in saying that, for me, it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done. You can’t switch off, you have problems retaining a life for yourself and it’s emotionally and physically exhausting.

“We do get help, and we’re grateful for the help we get but it’s always up to us to find out what is available and ask for it.

“Despite the Carers Measure, carers are still not provided with timely, relevant information by front line staff. This creates a feeling that we shouldn’t be asking for help because help is not freely given.

“When you consider that carers are supposed to have equality, especially in terms of education, social interaction and work, it makes you want to cry.

“To access services you need to know your rights, you need to assert your rights and you need to be very tough and it shouldn’t be that way.

“If I could have one wish it would be that every nurse, doctor, social worker and service provider would advise carers of their rights.”