CARERS in Cornwall are being encouraged to seek out the help and support available to them.
The plea has gone out to mark National Carers' Week, which started on Monday.
Carers' groups in Cornwall are also urging GPs to keep a register of carers to further ensure support is provided to those who assist relatives and friends.
Both locally and nationally, carers' groups are calling for better funding for carers, to provide the practical and financial support they need.
Marion Greenwood, from Carers' Rights, said that the main carers' benefit is £55.55 for a minimum of 35 hours, the equivalent of £1.58 per hour, whereas the national minimum wage is £5.93 per hour.
She said: "The benefits that carers get is just a token sum of money really – it doesn't reflect the work and effort that people put into caring.
"The wider public can sometimes forget that these are not paid carers but people who are doing it voluntarily and the financial benefits available are not sufficient.
"Carers save the economy £119 billion a year – we think they should be recognised more for the work they do."
Carers' Rights works with a number of different organisations across Cornwall to help carers to get help and support.
Marion said: "We want to use Carers' Week to raise awareness of the support which is available for carers in Cornwall.
"There are a wide range of services being provided which can provide real help and benefits to people who are caring for someone else.
"Carers very often don't see themselves as carers – they just consider that they are doing for their family or friends what anyone would do. We would encourage them to seek the support that they need to help themselves.
"We can often find that carers themselves can become affected by the tasks they take on and this can have a negative effect on their own health. There are people struggling along out there – they don't want total help, but a little bit of support can really make things easier."
The many carers' groups and organisations in Cornwall have joined together to help carers, providing support in their everyday lives and campaigning to get better funding and support.
Cornwall Carers' Service is free and can be contacted by calling 01872 266383 between 8am and 6pm. See www.cornwallcarers.org.uk