More than four in ten of the UK’s unpaid carers are male, according to a recent study by Carers Trust and The Men’s Health Forum. And over half of male carers surveyed said that being a carer had a negative impact on their mental health and that they felt especially isolated. Bearing these statistics in mind, are male carers getting the support and advice they need?
Jacqui Byron, Carers Advice Worker at social care charity The Fed, doesn’t think so. She’s developing a support group specifically for male carers living in the Greater Manchester Jewish community. Jacqui says:
“I’ve noticed a pattern of change – more male carers are coming forward and asking for help. I’m undertaking more carers’ assessments for male clients, and every week we see more and more men at our weekly Purple Room Cafe which is a place where carers can socialise and get advice.
I’ve actually been approached by several male carers who’ve said that a men’s group would be extremely beneficial to their own mental wellbeing. For this reason, I am creating bimonthly men’s carers’ evenings. Male carers will be able to get advice and information about their rights and can meet other carers”.
Whilst new groups are in the pipeline, The Fed’s existing groups continue to flourish, providing a range of support to help carers cope long-term. Part of this involves arranging social events which bring carers together, such as a recent trip to see the musical production ‘Top Hat’ funded by The Royal Mail ‘Carers UK’ Treat Fund.
One carer, Bernice King, who looks after her husband, said “having the trips really helps you forget about your responsibilities for a short time”. Whilst Frances Silverman, the principal carer for her husband, exclaimed “we all need time out from caring to recharge our batteries and I’m so grateful to The Fed – all the trips are exceptional!”