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Carer becomes disabled

Raj Gill-Harrison
Raj Gill-Harrison Image credit: leicestermercury.co.uk

A carer from Leicester has been diagnosed with ‘physical and mental health issues’ struggling to look after members of her family.

Raj Gill-Harrison, 51, had a well-paid career, earning a six figure sum she never thought about giving up her job or experiencing money worries.

But when her family needed additional support at home she took early retirement to become a full-time carer.

Looking after her four children, an adult member with physical disabilities and mental health conditions and a mother with a range of learning disabilities, severe physical conditions as well as mental health issues has taken its toll on her.

Ray now has difficulties of her own, she suffers severe pain from fibromyalgia, insomnia, depression, mobility conditions and is struggling to pay the bills.

Despite her poor health she still needs to lift a member of her family, weighing 24-stone, who is bed bound and push wheelchairs on a daily basis.

Raj told LeicestershrieLive: "I suffer from burnout and complete exhaustion going from one crisis to another every couple of weeks.

"For over a decade, I have had no time out to recover, process or recharge.

"I have felt social, physical and emotional isolation and my confidence is at an all-time low.

"The stress of health and finances are huge and I can't even afford to fix damage in my house or maintain my own home."

The mum has not claimed Carer’s Allowance because it would impact her mothers’ benefits.

Raj remains loyal to her family, she said: "They trust and know me so they feel safe and secure. My family know that I am available out of normal working hours.

"I cannot stand to see someone I care about struggling and continue to struggle. Nobody should suffer alone.

"To me, it's just part of being human and showing kindness and caring to fellow humans. It's who I am.

"Just because my body and finances are shot, I can't stop caring about others."

But her goodwill has come at a cost, in more ways than one. She can no longer afford “healthier food” and is too tired to prepare meals for herself.

She added: "I just buy the cheapest food and fastest to cook and I often have to eat at unhealthy times of the day.

“I don't have time to shop and cook for myself due to the constant rushing around or care and crisis management duties as well as hospital runs."

The Covid-19 pandemic put Raj’s plans returning to work on hold, the mum is desperate to return to her job because she loved it there so much.

To fill the void Raj launched the ‘Carers Health and Wellbeing Forum’ on Facebook so fellow carers could share their own experiences with each other.

The incentive came after Raj realised how little carers are being paid.

A report from CarersUK states: "Five million people in the UK are juggling caring responsibilities with work - that's one in seven of the workforce.

"However, the significant demands of caring mean that 600 people give up work every day to care for an older or disabled relative.

"Carer's Allowance is the main carer's benefit and is £67.25 for a minimum of 35 hours, the lowest benefit of its kind."

Raj said: "With the pandemic, I saw more and more unpaid carers struggling and drowning in overwhelm, stress and anxiety, no respite or communication and isolation, and increasing risk of or actual burnout.

"They were feeling more invisible, forgotten, undervalued, angry and unacknowledged despite saving the economy billions of pounds and making huge personal sacrifices.

"This is not a Covid issue but the pandemic has just exacerbated and intensified everything we go through.

"So I set up the group so people can feel connected and supported."

CarersUK states carers save the economy £132 billion per year, an average of £19,335 per carer.