THIS week, Chesham and Amersham MP Dame Cheryl Gillan writes exclusively to Bucks Free Press readers:

Are you a carer? If so, you are one of a significant number of people in the UK. The Government’s Family Resources Survey estimated in 2017-18 that around 4.5 million people in the UK provided unpaid care – that’s 7 per cent of the population.

Carers are often looking after members of their family, but they may also be a carer to friends or neighbours.

They look after people who have long term physical or mental health needs, some of which might be age-related.

Carers may be elderly themselves, whilst there are some much younger carers, including teenagers or even children, who are looking after parents or other members of their family.

In short, there is no typical carer, but what they all have in common is that they are not only looking after others, but the Department for Health and Social Care acknowledges that they are vital partners in our health and social care system.

I agree, from my own family’s experience, where three generations of us shared a home as my Mother cared for my Grandmother.

Carers’ own health can be neglected as they take care of others. The pressures on young carers can be enormous and their education can suffer in consequence.

Other carers can find that employers are not sympathetic.

Truly, sometimes “career” is cut short to enable someone to fulfil care commitments.

There need to be new ways to support our carers.

The Carers’ Innovation Fund was introduced during Carers’ Week in June, with £5 million in investment to enable the understanding of the kinds of support that work for carers outside of the traditional healthcare services.

Voluntary organisations can find out more on

Initial proposals for innovative ideas can be submitted up to 13th September.