Today marks the start of Carers Week 2022. An opportunity to recognise the many, many unpaid carers who look after family members and loved ones due to a range of medical and health conditions, age and injury. 

These unpaid carers are unspoken heroes who facilitate so much for the most vulnerable in our society - they ensure the basics of life are delivered - from food, clothing and cleaning - through to wonderful life-enhancing experiences and participation in activities, supporting the development of independence and empowerment, and above all, showing those they look after that they are loved and cared for on a daily basis. 

As a society, we owe a debt of gratitude that can never be paid to these tireless stalwarts of care and community - those who are not paid for what they do, often juggling their care for someone on top of a job and other family responsibilities and somehow making it work.

The theme for this year's Carers Week is to make caring - particularly unpaid caring upon which so very many people are reliant - visible, valued and supported.

With social care cuts, pressure on the NHS and the ongoing impact and aftermath of a worldwide pandemic, now, more than ever, the need for unpaid carers to meet a backbone of care has never been greater and the value of their contribution should never be underestimated. Sadly the support for the societal value that such carers receive has a long way to go to be truly what it ought to be for all that they do.

So today, on this first day of Carers Week, my shout out to all those unpaid, wonderful carers, who give of themselves selflessly is that you are seen, you are heard, you are important. We recognise you, we stand with you - and we want better for you and those you care for in the future.