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A carer is some­one of any age who pro­vides unpaid sup­port to fam­ily or friends who could not man­age with­out this help. This could be car­ing for a rel­a­tive, part­ner or friend who is ill, frail, dis­abled or has men­tal health or sub­stance mis­use problems.

Carers are vital to the wellbeing and independence of thousands of people. The number of carers is increasing. In the 2011 census, 5.8 million people in England and Wales identified themselves as carers, compared with 5.2 million people in 2001.*

The demands of being a carer can affect a person’s quality of life, including their health. People providing high levels of care are twice as likely to be permanently sick or disabled, and 625,000 people have health problems because of their caring responsibilities.*

It’s important that people who are looking after another person identify themselves as carers as early as possible, so they can get the information, advice and support they need when they need it. This includes getting advice about looking after their own health.

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*Figures from Department of Health