For many people looking after an ill, older or disabled friend or relative doesn’t have another name because they see it as, “…just something you do.” However not recognising that you have caring responsibilities or are carrying out a caring role can be a real barrier to self-care, accessing vital and often free support both at work and in the community. Such support doesn’t not mean that you are ‘not coping’ or that your caring role will be taken over by someone else. It also doesn’t mean that you cannot access progression opportunities; personal development; or reach key milestones in your academic pursuit if you are a student. Recognising your caring responsibilities ensures that you are supported as an employee or student of our University; so that your caring role is sustainable over a longer period and that you don’t reach breaking point before putting up your hand to be counted.
Below are a list of issues, which could pose an identification challenge to some carers at our University:
- Not seeing themselves as carers but as wife, husband, mother, sister or brother etc.
- Male carers often struggling with the idea of what being called a carer means for their masculinity.
- LGB+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual) carers who might want their sexual orientation to remain private by not admitting that they are caring for a same-sex partner.
- Parent carers perceiving their caring role for a chronically ill or disabled child as part of parental responsibilities and their duty.
- BAME (Black Asian & Minority Ethnic) staff, not realising that they are in a caring role because of specific cultural expectations around caring (especially for women).
- Mutual carers who are in a marriage or civil partnership believing that caring for each other is in fulfilment of their vows – ‘till death do us part.’
- Parents of young children not realising that they are Sandwich Carers i.e. raising a young family alongside looking after one or multiple chronically ill or disabled elderly relatives as well as holding down a paid job.
- Stigma associated with caring for a friend or relative with addiction issues or HIV.
- Kinship carers e.g. grandparents, who also look after healthy young children of an adult relative with addiction or mental health issues, who are incapable of looking after their own children.
 There are 2.4 million people in the UK, sandwiched between providing support to an older adult with disabilities or chronic illnesses, who also have children to care for as well (Carers UK 2014).