A comprehensive plan, titled ‘Newham Cares Strategy’, to recognise and support the borough’s growing numbers of unpaid carers has been launched by Newham Council.
Figures show that Newham has 24,554 carers (including 1,204 young carers), but the council said that the real figure is likely to be far higher due to residents not identifying themselves, as well as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
During lockdown, figures show that carers delivered on average 25 extra hours a week of unpaid care on top of their normal caring responsibilities.
This is due to the virus disproportionately affecting older people, as well as those with disabilities and long-term health conditions.
The council said that many carers, including men, disabled people and those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, do not regard themselves as carers.
They said this is because people in these communities tend to view their caring responsibilities as part of another role, such as a parent, partner, child, relative or friend.
Unsupported and unrecognised, their caring responsibilities can affect their health and wellbeing, relationships, employment and finances.
Commenting, Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz said: “Lockdown has been hard on everyone, but carers of all ages who go above and beyond have faced even greater challenges during the pandemic.
“We have worked alongside 500 carers and local partners to develop this three year action plan to recognise, enable and empower all of Newham’s amazing carers and make a real positive difference to their health and wellbeing.
“The council recognises this huge amount of unheralded unseen work by unpaid carers and that they deserve a voice and the right support.”
Newham Council’s Lead Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Councillor Zulfiqar Ali said: “As part of this plan, we will codesign and implement a carers charter to promote a culture of working in partnership with and supporting our carers.
“We want to make our carers’ lives easier by listening and responding to what they want, so they can continue to provide their crucial care and enjoy positive lives.”
According to Carers UK, more than a third (35%) of people caring feel unable to manage their caring role and more than two thirds (72%) have not had a break from caring during the pandemic.
Newham Council collaborated with key partners, including Barts Health NHS Trust, North East London CCG, Healthwatch Newham and other voluntary and charity organisations to develop the strategy.
The authority will continue to work with them over the next three years to deliver it.