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Relationships

Changes in your social life

Caring responsibilities can make it difficult to maintain old friendships or develop new ones. It can be hard to commit to plans when you're a carer. Finding time for friends or family may not seem important, but everyone needs the opportunity to socialise and have fun, and carers are no exception.

Talking about your worries and problems can help release stress that builds up when you’re a carer. Talk to family, friends, healthcare professionals involved in the care of the person you look after, and social work teams.

Talking to someone who understands what you’re going through can be enormously helpful. They can offer kindness, sympathy, understanding and advice, and can help reduce any feelings of isolation. 

There are dozens of local carers’ groups around the country, often run by charities, such as the Carers Trust, or organisations that help people with specific conditions, such as the MS Society. If there's a support group for people with the condition or illness the person you care for has, check if they have any groups in your area.

You can search for details of organisations and local support groups by calling the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053. You can find locations, contact details and websites for organisations in your area, as well as an outline of the services or sessions they offer.

Although facilities and services vary from group to group, you may find a local organisation that offers:  

  • regular meetings where members can get together, make new friends and share interests
  • relaxing treats for carers, such as massages, which may be subsidised
  • training sessions for carers, such as how to lift without harming your back
  • professional counselling
  • social activities  

Your local council may support or run a carers’ group. You can find contact details for your local authority social services department by searching in "Services near you", above right, or by calling the Carers Direct helpline.

Attending a group with other carers can show you that you're not alone and that other people share your experiences or feelings. Knowing that support is available when you need it can help you cope with day-to-day caring.

Finding help online

You can find help and support online in forums and message boards. Online forums and communities allow you to contact other carers, make new friends and help or get help from people in a similar situation. 

Some websites for people with specific conditions or for carers have details of local support groups. National organisations such as Carers Trust, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, MIND and Citizens Advice Bureau can help.

You can find links to reliable websites in the NHS Choices Links Library or on the Health A-Z pages for the relevant condition.

If you have problems getting online, most organisations have a phone service. Alternatively, your local library or UK Online Centre can help you get online. 

Starting your own support group

If there are no suitable groups for carers in your area, you can set one up yourself. Many people care for someone while they're working, and work can be a good place to start a carers' support group. Good employers are likely to support you if you can offer extra help for working carers. 

If you have a disabled child, specialist and mainstream schools and colleges are excellent places to get together with other parents who may have similar experiences.  

If you can’t find a support group in your area and you want to set one up, Carers Trust or Carers UK can give you more information about how to go about it.

Carers emergency scheme

Gordon Conochie from the Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care explains the carers emergency scheme, which gives peace of mind to carers. David, who cares for his partner Martin, carries a carers emergency card. It identifies him as a carer, and who he cares for, in case of an emergency. Please note that since this video was published the above organisations have become Carers Trust and Gordon Conochie is no longer working for the organisation.

Media last reviewed: 19/01/2012

Next review due: 19/01/2014

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Page last reviewed: 13/12/2013

Next review due: 13/12/2015

Call Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053

Confidential information and advice for carers.

Lines are open 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays), 11am to 4pm at weekends. Request a free call back or an interpreted call back in one of more than 170 languages including ربي, বাংলা, 中文, Français, ગુજરાતી, Polski, Português, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Soomaali, Español, Türkçe and .اردو.

You can talk to an adviser live online or send a query by email.

Find out more about the Carers Direct helpline.

Carers' lives

Find out more about carers like you, and how you can find help with caring

Media last reviewed: 17/07/2013

Next review due: 17/07/2015