A carer is someone who, without payment, provides help and support to a friend, neighbour or relative who could not manage otherwise because of frailty, illness or disability.
Most carers would still not recognise themselves under the term 'carer'. They are just people trying to cope as best they can while helping to look after an elderly relative who has developed Alzheimer's, a partner with Multiple Sclerosis or a young child born with cerebral palsy.
They may even be juggling paid work with their unpaid caring responsibilities at home.
In total there are 5.7 million adult carers across the UK, of whom almost onemillion are looking after somebody for more than 50 hours each week. There are also estimated to be 50,000 young carers in the UK - young people under the age of 18 who might be helping to look after a parent with physical disabilities or mental health problems, or who may be caring for a brother or sister with learning disabilities.
A website called Carers Direct has been set upto support carers as part of the NHS Choices website. This site contains a support information including links to local support services.