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Reflecting on: Carer's Week 2024

Elle Knight, Wellbeing and D&I Officer, reflects back on Carers Week in mid-June.

Back towards the middle of June was Carers Week, which is a UK-wide awareness campaign that takes place each year to increase visibility for carers and to campaign for much-needed recognition and support.

Why are unpaid carers so important?

Across the UK, millions of people provide unpaid care for a friend or family member who, due to illness, disability, a mental health condition or addiction, would not be able to cope without their support. There are an estimated 10.6 million unpaid carers in the UK: that’s around 1 in 5 adults. Approximately 50% of the general population have provided unpaid support or care at some point in their life. However, many people who provide (or have provided) unpaid care do not identify as, or call themselves, a carer. This means many people do not receive information, advice and support available to support them with their caring responsibilities.

Junior Lawyers

A recent report by law firm RPC, mental health charity LawCare and equality project Next 100 Years found that more than 77% of legal professionals (half of whom being partners, barristers or judges) with caring responsibilities said their mental health had been affected by being a carer, with 70% saying their physical health had suffered.

Whilst caring responsibilities tend to arise later in life, there will also be junior lawyers who need to balance work and care. It can arguably be more difficult for those in the earlier stages of their career to do so, as they’re still establishing their professional reputation, have less job security, and may lack the financial resources and flexible working arrangements that more experienced colleagues might have.

What should you be aware of?

Whether for yourself as a carer, or perhaps to support a friend, colleague or even a client, here are some things you should be aware of:

·       Have a look at your firm/company policies and procedures with regard to caring responsibilities – you have a right to request flexible working and time off to look after dependants in an emergency.

·       An employee can take unpaid time off to provide or arrange care for a dependant who needs long-term care. They are entitled to one week of carer’s leave in any rolling 12-month period (pro-rated for part-time employees).

·       Local authorities offer a carer’s assessment to evaluate the carer’s needs and determine what support might be available.

·       Financial assistance – you may be eligible to receive Carers Allowance.

·       Many charities can provide guidance, and will have a network of local services to provide support. They also have grants programmes that can provide one-off payments for support.

It can often feel lonely or isolating as a carer, however it’s important to remember that you are not alone. It is highly likely that among your peers, there are others who are also juggling similar responsibilities. Managers and supervisors may empathise more than you expect, as many of them are likely to have caring responsibilities themselves. Opening up about your situation can foster understanding and support within your professional environment, making it easier to manage both roles effectively.

Further information

To find out more about Carers Week 2024 and how you can help make caring more visible, please see here.


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