Fears of looming care crisis in Sunderland as covid makes bad situation worse
Fears are growing of a looming care crisis in Sunderland, stoked by the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 10,000 adults and children are known to provide unpaid care to relatives and others in the city, but bosses admit the true figure is likely to be significantly higher.
And the impact of COVID-19 restrictions is only expected to generate more, as access to support and other services becomes ever more difficult.
“We don’t believe we’re even touching the iceberg in Sunderland, in terms of carers,” said Amanda Brown, chief executive at the Sunderland Carers Centre
“Our biggest stumbling block is funding those carers and carers recognising they are in a caring role.
“The longer [the pandemic] goes on, the bigger the impact this is having on them as a carer, the bigger their caring role becomes, the fewer services there are out there to support them.
“It’s a massive concern of people coping in their own way, but the biggest fear is are we going to come to a crisis point with carers and I think for us that is our major fear.”
Brown was speaking at a meeting of Sunderland City Council’s Children, Education and Skills Scrutiny Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
According to Brown, the centre is currently working with 8,039 adult carers, 1,844 parent carers and 820 young carers.
According to the NHS, a carer is anyone, of any age, who looks after a family member, partner or friend with an illness, frailty, disability, mental health problem or addiction who could not ‘cope without their support’.
Some studies have suggested the number of carers in the UK could have surged by 50 per cent during the COVID-19 outbreak, with the young expected to have been hit hardest.
Lisa Watson, also of the Sunderland Carers Centre, told the committee: “[The pandemic] has been a massive impact on all young people, but particularly young carers.
“We know young carers suffer quite dramatically with their mental health and not having any respite or break from their caring role has been huge.
“They haven’t been accessing school for a long period of time, so they’re not even getting that normal break from their routine.”