I RECENTLY met Carers UK, the people behind the annual Carers Week which recognises the vital contribution made by people caring unpaid for someone living with an illness, disability, mental health condition or old age.

I learnt that in North West Hampshire we have more than 9,994 unpaid carers which is roughly equal to one in ten of our local population. Across the country there are an estimated 8.8 million unpaid carers.

These people are doing a heroic job for their family, friends and neighbours — yet many suffer from loneliness and isolation.

In North West Hampshire a huge number of unpaid carers, 3,892 in total, are in full-time employment whilst also juggling caring responsibilities on top of making a living.

It’s down to all of us to support the carers in our community — government, local authorities and employers.

We all have a role to play in getting them connected to the practical, emotional, and financial support they need.

That could mean setting up micro networks in towns like Andover so they can talk, socialise, and make friendships with fellow carers or it could involve employers supporting their staff with caring responsibilities through carer-friendly perks. And this government must do its bit as in the end unpaid carers are doing society a great service and saving our pressured health and social care service vast sums of money in the long run.