A new £5 million fund has been announced today by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to invest in new projects to improve unpaid carers’ health and wellbeing.

The Carers Innovation Fund will invest in innovative ways of supporting unpaid carers, outside of mainstream health and care services. It will be used to improve support across the country and help build more carer-friendly communities.

Examples of the kind of projects the fund would invest in include technology platforms and support groups.

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These projects strive to support carers’: health and wellbeing; ability to manage work alongside caring responsibilities; ability to take a break from their caring role; and feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said: “Informal care is a fundamental part of our health and care system, which would not be sustainable without the incredible contribution of carers across the country. But we cannot take them for granted and must do more to protect their wellbeing and ensure they can enjoy full lives.

“This £5 million investment will help build our understanding of the kinds of support that work for carers, outside of traditional healthcare services. From cafes that bring carers together, to innovative forms of technology that help carers enjoy time off, I want to see a range of exciting projects boosted and their benefits unlocked.”

The third sector, SMEs and commercial organisations can all bid for funding to prove their concept, with the aim of securing longer term funding from other sources.

The fund was first announced last year as part of the Carers Action Plan, a cross-government programme of targeted work to support unpaid carers over the next two years. Initially, the fund was worth half a million pounds, however, funding was later increased to £5 million.

The NHS is also working to better identify and support carers across England, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, also welcomed the new fund: “There’s never been a more important time to develop and accelerate new ways to support unpaid carers.

“Many more of us are taking on unpaid caring responsibilities for family and friends, often alongside paid work or raising children. We are also seeing the amount and complexity of care increasing.

“As we live and work longer, with technology transforming so many aspects of our lives, it’s time to innovate to support the way families are living today.”

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