By Ian Dipple Friday 13 December 2013 Updated: 13/12 09:28
CARERS across Redditch are missing out on more than £1.6million of support because they do not know they are entitled to it.
A total of 522 people in the borough are failing to claim carers allowance according to figures released to mark Carers Rights Day.
The benefit is worth £59.75 a week - or £3,107 a year - and is available to people aged 16 and over who spend at least 35 hours a week caring for their loved one.
There are 8,889 carers in Redditch looking after a loved one with the numbers having increased by over 1,000 in the last decade.
But charities say there are many more so-called hidden carers who are failing to claim the support they are entitled to either through a lack of advice or because they do not class themselves as a carer and instead consider it their responsibility or part of family duty.
Calls are now being made for those missing out on help not to struggle on alone.
Noreen Tweddle, from Church Hill North, became a carer suddenly when her partner John was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) earlier this year.
The 74-year-old was put in touch with a GP carer support adviser from Worcestershire Association of Carers which helped her to adapt.
“Everything happened very quickly. Over a couple of months John’s health deteriorated rapidly.
“He couldn’t cope if I wasn’t here, he would find it very difficult,” she said.
“It can get overwhelming being on your own, but knowing that a lifeline is there eased my mind.
“I would say to every carer you must speak to someone and have someone to turn to when times get rough. Sometimes you have to call for back up.”
Natalie Carney, carers services manager at Redditch based Carers Careline, said the figures were not a surprise as many people just did not realise they were carers.
“By not claiming Carers Allowance or other support they may be entitled to, it is often the case that carers who may already feel, tired, stressed, isolated and unsupported, end up cutting back on essentials like food and heating to make ends meet and end up caring for their loved one around the clock without the break that they so often desperately need.
“This in turn often has a knock on effect on their physical and emotional well being,” she said.
Carers Careline is based in the Ecumencial Centre in Redditch and provides a variety of support to carers. Contact them on 01527 66177 between Monday and Thursday, 9am to 2pm.
Alternatively call Worcestershire Association of Carers helpline on 0300 012 4272 between 9am and 7pm.
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