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Anne at 70: An interview with Carers Trust

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“With an estimated seven million carers in the UK today, the need to continue to do more to identify and support them is pressing.” -The Princess Royal

For more than three decades Princess Anne has been an advocate for unpaid carers, with The Princess Royal Trust for Carers established in 1991. The organisation merged with Crossroads Care in 2012 to create Carers Trust, with the Princess serving as President.

When the Princess Royal Trust for Carers was initially set up, the struggles of people caring for ill or disabled family or friends at home wasn’t really recognised or talked about and unpaid carers had little to no access to support. Through the original Princess Royal Trust for Carers, and today Carers Trust, anyone struggling with the challenges of caregiving has the opportunity to access services such as hands-on help, advice, information, and emotional support.

Throughout the years, Princess Anne has helped the charity not only raise money (in 2019, she helped the Trust raise more than £120,000 at a private lunch and auction at Ascot Racecourse) but bring attention to what unpaid carers go through every day. In a recent video message, she called the role of carers “a vital one, one to be highlighted and celebrated, and one that should never be forgotten”.

Carers routinely express how interested and knowledgeable the princess is about their cause, with one carer, Victor, telling the Trust: “I was so impressed upon meeting Princess Anne because she showed great compassion and empathy, she knew as much as a carer would know. It was a brilliant day!”

To mark Carers Week in June 2020, Princess Anne had a very special guest join her for a Zoom call with carers: her mother, The Queen, marking Her Majesty’s first-ever video call with a charity.

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Royal Central spoke with Svetlana Kirov, Director of Fundraising and Communications at Carers Trust, about the Princess Royal’s role at the charity, how she has impacted the lives of carers and how the Trust is doing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kristin Contino: Princess Anne has served as President of the Trust since its inception. What has it been like working with her over the years?

Svetlana Kirov: The Princess Royal has been an active champion of unpaid carers since 1991 when The Princess Royal Trust for Carers was set up just after her 40th birthday. Her commitment to unpaid carers over three decades has been unwavering. She became President of Carers Trust in 2012 following a merger of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers with Crossroads Care.

The Princess Royal has been much more than just a figurehead for Carers Trust. When it comes to supporting unpaid carers, she is completely engaged and does not see this as just another call of duty. For example, whenever she visits a carers centre the first thing she wants to do is talk with, and listen to, all the carers that are there – before she carries out any official business with the managers and professionals.

She shows real empathy by always listening to carers– no matter how long the carer talks. She wants to hear everyone’s story to deepen her understanding of the very real issues carers face, she instinctively understands how important it is for carers to feel that someone in a position to help is really listening to them.

What was it like for the carers speaking with The Queen and The Princess Royal on a recent Zoom call?

The carers were all incredibly excited to take part on the Zoom call. They were very touched by the fact that Her Majesty the Queen joined the call, and they were all incredibly impressed by how knowledgeable The Princess Royal was about carers and the daily challenges they face.

How has Carers Trust been coping during the pandemic?

Carers Trust has been working incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to support unpaid carers disproportionately affected by coronavirus. Even before the pandemic, many carers felt isolated and forgotten. The pandemic has made an already bad situation even worse.

Carers Trust launched its Emergency Appeal in May. The appeal raised funds to be used to provide small grants to carers struggling to cope with the effects of the lockdown. All money raised online has been used for grants that are made direct to the carers themselves. Carers Trust has also conducted a survey to investigate how coronavirus has affected young carers. The survey found that 40% of young carers across the UK report worse mental health since the lockdown. And two thirds of young carers report feeling disconnected from friends since Coronavirus.

You can support Carers Trust by visiting carers.org/ways-to-give/ways-to-give.

About author

Kristin is Chief Reporter for Royal Central and has been following the British royal family for more than 30 years. Kristin has appeared in UK and U.S. media outlets discussing the British royals including BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Sky News, the Associated Press, TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.