Eastbourne has seen the largest increase of unpaid carers in the county.
Numbers have risen by 20 per cent to more than 12,000 unpaid carers in the area, which is an increase of double the national average.
And this is believed to be a conservative estimate – the actual number of people supporting someone who cannot cope without their help is likely to be far larger.
This is according to charity Care For The Carers, which is based in Eastbourne and looks after around 19,000 carers across East Sussex.
Teresa Flower, strategic partnership manager at the charity, said, “East Sussex generally has much higher levels of unpaid carers than the rest of the country.
“The national average is 11 per cent and in the Eastbourne area it’s 20 per cent.
“Those numbers are based on people who have identified as carers, so it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“We think there’s more in Eastbourne particularly because of the age of the population, a lot of people retire here, it’s a place where a lot of people want to come.
“We know there’s an awful lot of working age carers who very rarely come for support.”
Teresa said, “The biggest challenge we have is seeing themselves as a carer.
“You might not call yourself a carer, people don’t. Do you look after someone or support someone who couldn’t do it without your help?
“It can be a brother or sister, looking after mum and dad or your partner.
“It creeps up on you and you are gradually doing it more and sometimes it takes someone pointing it out for you.
“A lot of carers are very lonely and isolated and often don’t have anyone to talk and worry about being seen as someone who needs help.
“If people can talk to us before they hit a crisis it’s the best thing that can happen.”
She explained why the number of unpaid carers is on the rise, “There’s lots of reasons, there’s no doubt the fact that our local council is having to make cuts.
“We know carer services are going to be cut and respite care is going to be affected, there’s a knock on effect.
“I think people worry a lot now about what the future is going to hold and perhaps aren’t accessing the support deserve.
“A lot of carers don’t know they have rights just like the people they care for.”
Based in St Leonard’s Road, Care for the Carers has been around for 30 years.
It is organising a number of events for Carers Week, June 11-17.