According to Carer’s UK there are 6.5 million carers in the UK. However, the figure is thought to be much higher with hidden caring a big issue. Behind closed doors millions of people are providing unpaid care every day. The many scenarios’ people and families face are not simply about looking after elderly relatives and affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Even for those who claim the carers allowance the amount is the lowest allowance of it’s’ kind. Not only are carer’s livelihoods affected but options and freedoms in all other areas of their lives can be hugely affected.
Society does not value caring as it should. The NHS and the social security system have long been propped up by relatives and friends stepping in to plug the gap. Even professional Carers are often lowly paid and on zero hours/part time contracts. It is seen traditionally as an unskilled, low status and mostly female occupation and certainly not as a career. The emotional, financial, physical and practical effects of caring can upturn the life of individuals and families and the long term and knock-on effects can be enormous and long term.
The toll of caring is not only practical, and the psychological and emotional fall out can impact strongly on how the carer sees themselves and their worth out in the world. As they juggle with the commitments of caring both in terms of time, energy and emotional input something has to give and something has to be sacrificed. Carers often feel guilty about expressing how they are feeling or do not have contacts with people in the same situation and so become isolated which further compounds the negative effects of their commitments.
Against all this societal background, being seen simply as the extension and enabler of another person’s life often erodes the carer’s self-esteem. They can feel helpless, hopeless, undervalued, unseen and trapped. Their own plans and aspirations need to take a back seat against the demands of caring and the needs of the person they are helping. Airing and exploring the experiences and feelings of this intense and complicated position with those who understand is a crucial outlet. Additionally, reclaiming identity, worth and aspirations can help carers overcome negative feelings to find traction to move forward in their own lives.
Our bespoke experiential self-esteem workshops are specifically designed with this in mind. Offering a safe and non-judgemental arena shared with others with similar experiences gives those attending a feeling of community with a sense of being heard, understood and validated. Our workshops aim to empower a hidden and sometimes forgotten community and to support and encourage whatever plans and aspirations they may have in their own lives aside from the role of carer.
Research has shown that people who are 50 years plus are more likely to experience long-term unemployment. Age discrimination and being over qualified are some of the fundamental reasons why.
In 2020, the National Bureau of Economic Research did a study in which they found that there is over a 50% chance that a person who is 40+ is less likely to be offered a job than someone who is younger, if ages were revealed at the recruitment stage. As a result, a person who is 50+ is more likely to be unemployed for at least two years if they lose their job.
In addition to the above, recent data provided by the HMRC highlights that the percentage of under 25s on furlough has decreased whereas the over 55s has increased, suggesting that younger workers are being favoured to return to work first.
Given the above, there seems to be no better time than now for people who fall within the older age bracket to start their own business. In fact, the last 5 years has seen an increase in the number of people who are 65+ starting their own business, with figures doubling in the UK alone.
Whilst the prospect can be both daunting and challenging, the benefits of taking such a leap can be very rewarding and fulfilling. It can provide an opportunity to turn a hobby or a passion into a thriving business and/or do the type of work that gives a strong sense of purpose. Furthermore, 80% of new start-ups by people who are 50+ are doing it for the first time. This is encouraging and shows that it is never too late to learn, create and be your own boss.
Enterprise Junction is a charity that offers free online self-employment courses for people who are 50+. For more information please visit our website; enterprisejunction.org.uk or email; Helen@enterprisejunction.org.uk