Carers' Week helps make the UK's six million carers aware that help is there for them

Macmillan Cancer Relief is using Carers' Week (14-20 June) to make the UK's six million carers aware that help is there for them.

Macmillan recognises the difficulties that those caring for sick relatives and friends face, particularly those caring for someone with cancer, and as a result developed a number of services to help carers share the challenges associated with caring.

Feelings of isolation are commonly experienced by carers and Macmillan's Befriending schemes are set up to tackle this. They link carers with volunteers to provide one-to-one friendship and emotional support, information and advice. Carers' Schemes, in partnership with other voluntary sector organisations such as Crossroads Caring for Carers, offer practical support in the home and enable the carer to take a much needed break from their caring role.

Another two such Carers' Schemes have just been set up by Macmillan in conjunction with Crossroads, one in Maidstone and another in Richmond, both offer support to those caring for people who may be in the final stages of illness. In each case a new team of carer support workers will visit people at home to provide carers with a much needed break for a few hours or overnight, and to offer them emotional support.

Financial hardship is also a problem experienced by those caring for someone with cancer, especially if the patient or carer has to give up work. This has a huge impact on the quality of life of both carers and those they care for, so Macmillan provides small financial grants to people living with cancer for a range of expenses that cannot be met from a low or reduced income. Help towards, for example, visiting expenses, holidays and washing machines can have a direct beneficial impact on carers.

Alexandra Sebastian cared for her sister Susan who died of breast cancer and then her sister Kay who died of ovarian cancer she said: 'I was only able to nurse my sister Susan in hospital. With the Macmillan Palliative Care Service at Merton Crossroads I was able to nurse Kay at home and give her the security and confidence which was essential for her and the rest of the family.'

If you would like to find out more about Macmillan's services for carers please call the Macmillan CancerLine on freephone 0808 808 2020 (Mon-Fri, 9am to 6pm) or email [email protected]

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