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‘A New Deal for Unpaid Carers in Northern Ireland’

Today, Law Centre NI attended the launch of ‘A New Deal for Unpaid Carers in Northern Ireland’ at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

The new publication by the Coalition of Carers Organisations in NI was co-designed with 240 carers from across Northern Ireland. It highlights the significant role played by unpaid carers, both in propping up the Health and Social Care system and saving the public purse billions per year.

The report identifies new policy solutions to support unpaid carers in Northern Ireland who are currently not receiving the help and support they need.

Recommendations include:

  • To better support them through the Health and Social Care system;
  • To help maintain health and wellbeing;
  • To address the poverty and financial hardship they face;
  • To make it easier for them to juggle work and caring;
  • To better meet their housing needs.

Unpaid carers gave moving accounts of the difficulties that come hand-in-hand with unrelenting caring duties, little respite, financial difficulties, and a lack of support from Health and Social Care services.

Craig Harrison, Chair of the Coalition of Carers Organisations NI, spoke about the lack of strategic policy direction for unpaid carers and the difficulties carers face, with one in three struggling to make ends meet, living lives defined by debt, destitution, and despair.

At Law Centre NI, we are acutely aware of the difficulties faced by unpaid carers. We work closely with Carers NI on the Cliff Edge Coalition Working Group to highlight how families are facing poverty and struggling to make ends meet due to harsh welfare reforms and the cost-of-living crisis.

‘A New Deal for Unpaid Carers in Northern Ireland’ follows publication of a report in October 2022 ‘Heading for Crisis: caught between caring and rising costs’ which also identified impacts on health, finance, and difficulty in accessing support services for carers.