Campaigners pledge to walk 500 miles, celebrating unpaid carers

Katie Hoare
By Katie Hoare,
updated on Jun 7, 2021

Campaigners pledge to walk 500 miles, celebrating unpaid carers

In celebration of Carers Week (7 - 13 June), Scottish-based charity Connecting Carers has launched the annual Walk500 to raise awareness of the essential lifelines carers provide

Calling on all carers to take a little time for themselves this week, Walk500 sees carers, charity staff, family and supporters pledge to raise awareness of unpaid carers in a joint walking effort.

Now in its fifth year, participants commit to walking a distance they feel comfortable with, sharing pictures along the way and logging the distance with the charity in a bid to collectively break the 500-mile barrier.

The Highland-based charity connects local people with fellow caring responsibilities, but the Walk500 campaign isn’t just reserved for carers and their families across Scotland, Connecting Carers is calling for all unpaid carers to join in this week.

As an unpaid carer, your self-care can often be put on the back burner, and the charity works tirelessly to offer carers that valuable time just for themselves. That’s what Walk500 is all about, “valuing yourself as an unpaid carer and taking time for your physical and mental wellbeing by getting moving, getting the blood pumping, getting some fresh air, and noticing your environment while you walk.”

Connecting Carers is asking all participants to track their distances (which you can do with mobile apps like Strava, AllTrails or Google maps) and log the total distance for the week with the charity. Walk500’s first year in 2017 saw carers and their families stomp a huge 2591 miles, so the anticipation of this year’s total is high!

The campaign is backed by local Ross-based MSP Maree Todd who will be joining in with the Walk500 step count. “It’s important that we do all we can to make their [carers'] role more visible and we recognise their contribution to the health and wellbeing of families and communities across Scotland.”

Carers have been the unsung heroes of the pandemic and we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

An important event for recognising the incredible work that young carers do in society, Barbara Brown from Connecting Young Carers, said: “Some of our Young Carers will be getting together for a walk as our first face-to-face event since Covid-19! We will also be celebrating the week together at a group online get together."

Carers Week is all about raising awareness of the essential work unpaid carers of all ages do, the challenges they face, and recognising their incredible contribution to supporting the lives of others. It is estimated that there are 700,000 young carers in the UK (BBC) so this week is particularly important to highlight the support available for young careers and to remind them they are not alone in their responsibilities.

Caring for others is incredible, but taking care of yourself and your needs is also very important. The restorative effects of nature could be one way to connect with yourself and your support network and even be incorporated into daily life. If you’d like to get involved with Walk500, register via Eventbrite or get in touch with Connecting Carers.

Support for young carers

Are you an unpaid carer who needs support? Remember, help is available and you are not alone.

Children’s Society has lots of supportive resources for young carers and can connect you with fellow carers.

Carers Trust supports young carers through specialised services such as mentoring schemes, activities, emotional support, life skills and emergency planning across the UK.

Alternatively if you need to talk, you can find a professional counsellor who specialises in carer support, via Counselling Directory.

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