CONCERNS have been raised that an army of unpaid and isolated carers is not being identified and offered support, partly due to inadequate information-gathering processes.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s adults scrutiny committee heard the last time the total number of carers in the area was identified was at the census in 2011, which concluded 11,048 people were carers.

The 2011 census found there were 740 carers aged under 25 in the borough in 2011, but the latest available figures, for the 12 months to March last year, only shows 142 carers aged up to 25 were assisted by Darlington support organisation Humankind.

The meeting heard the authority was working with a range of groups to identify carers to offer support, but it was clear there was a large gap between the number of people who had been offered support and the number of carers.

Councillor Mike Renton said: “I find it a bit concerning that the only way we identify the total number of carers in Darlington is by the ten-year census data, which means there are a lot of people out there who are not getting any support. It is even more concerning there could be people of school age who are not getting any support because they have not been identified.”

The meeting heard to push towards more carers receiving the support they want the council was working to raise the profile of carers. Councillors were told there was a clear need to identify carers in health and community settings and in their education and workplaces to ensure they get support to maintain their wellbeing.

In addition, Darlington Carers Support and Humankind Young Carers Service, was providing guidance to identified carers, as well as group activities to enable carers to meet others in similar situations and carer breaks.

Carers officer Lisa Holdsworth said while a carer is anyone who provides ongoing support over and above what they would usually do in a relationship, many people don’t see themselves as carers and don’t identify with the word carer.