Family Carers Ireland has launched a nationwide call for nominations for its Netwatch ‘Family Carer of the Year Awards’.

The national charity is calling on members of the public to help shine a light on Ireland’s forgotten frontline by nominating family carers and young carers they know who go above and beyond every day in caring for loved ones with additional needs. More than 500,000 people in Ireland provide unpaid care in the home for children or adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental ill-health or addiction. The 19 million hours of unpaid care provided each week by family carers would cost the state €20bn a year to replace.

The last 18 months have been incredibly difficult for all but in particular for family carers who saw services and supports for their loved ones depleted and, in many cases, eradicated. The blanket withdrawal of supports such as homecare, respite, personal assistance hours and residential care during lockdown forced many to care alone, around the clock.

Ireland has almost 67,000 young carers aged between 10 and 17 caring for a loved one including Shauna Tighe (17), a previous Dublin Young Carer of the Year, who help her Mam and Dadto care for her younger brother Daniel who has a rare genetic disorder called Sotos Syndrome. She says: “Being a young carer is definitely hard but the good outweighs the bad. It’s brought me many different experiences and given me a special bond with my brother “,

Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy, Family Carers Ireland said: “Ireland’s family carers provide remarkable levels of care for their loved ones. Their essential contribution to society – particularly during the past 18 months – deserves to be acknowledged and supported. When the country shut down, they stepped up and kept their loved ones safe at home.

“The Netwatch Family Carer of the Year Awards are a timely opportunity for us all to honour the extraordinary work of each and every one of Ireland’s family carers who have contributed immensely in the fight against Covid-19 – often to the detriment of their own emotional, physical, social and financial wellbeing. As a society, it’s time we applaud the forgotten frontline of this pandemic and give them the recognition they so truly deserve.

Nominate someone you know today at or call the National Freephone Careline on 1800 24 07 24 to request a nomination form by post. Nominations should be submitted online or returned by post no later than Friday 22nd October. Finalists will be announced in late October.

Please take two minutes to watch this inspirational video of young carer Shauna Tighe and her brother Daniel.