IT IS estimated there are in the region of 63,000 unpaid carers in Worcestershire – many of these people are caring for more than 50 hours a week for relatives or friends with serious illnesses, who are frail, disabled or with an addiction who could not manage without them.

In the whole of the UK this figure rockets to 6.5 million people – one in 10 – and it is thought they provide care to the value of £119 billion each year, which is greater than the annual NHS budget.

In June this year, three Worcestershire carer charities (Worcestershire Association of Carers [WAC], Worcestershire Young Carers and Worcestershire Parent Carers Community) joined forces for national Carers Week to raise awareness about the work done by carers, help identify them and direct them to the support available in their communities.

But there are still thought to be 52,000 hidden carers who are not known to the local carer organisations and who may be missing out on the support available.

A spokesman for WAC said: “Many of the 52,000 people don’t recognise themselves as carers and this seems to be the major problem. Even if a person has a relationship with the person they help, they are still entitled to support.”

The association - which offers information, advice and support through the Worcestershire Integrated Carers Hub established in July this year - is now launching a new campaign to try and identify the missing 52,000 carers in the county.

“With the help of a grant from Big Lottery’s Awards 4 All programme, we have launched a campaign to try and find all those thousands of missing people who are caring for others.

“If you are an adult who helps a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or substance misuse problems, or an adult caring for a child who has a disability or an additional need, we would like to hear from you,” added the spokesman.

People can do this by completing a five-minute survey online by visiting The deadline for completing the survey is Friday September 30.

• Worcestershire Association of Carers was established in 1997 as an independent source of information, advice and support for all unpaid adult carers in Worcestershire. It works to raise the profile of carers, offer practical and emotional support through its helpline, GP Support Service, its 19 Carer Support Groups, Caring with Confidence training programmes and information sessions.

• If you look after someone and need support or advice, please contact WAC helpline on 0300 012 4272. It is open Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm and from 9am to noon on Saturday.

• National research has indicated that the health of carers is often affected by the stresses and strains of their caring role and the lack of recognition they receive within their communities.