Karen Howell, chief executive of Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, writes for Globe.

IT'S Carers Week, an annual national campaign that recognises the vital contribution made by all unpaid carers across the UK.

I'd like to take the opportunity this week to celebrate carers and the amazing work they do.

Did you know, there are 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers, looking after a family member or friend who has a disability, mental or physical illness or who needs extra help as they get older.

This requires hard work and dedication as it is, but during the pandemic carers have taken on huge challenges. Now 70% of carers are providing more care due to the COVID-19 outbreak and on average are providing 10 additional hours of care a week*.

To ensure carers get the support they need, it is important that they are visible and valued.

The theme for this year's campaign is 'Making caring visible and valued', and here at the Trust we support our working carers, recognising that it can be extremely tough whilst juggling work and family life along with caring responsibilities.

Our Working Carer’s Staff Network is just one element of support which helps colleagues connect with other carers to share stories and experiences.

Providing help and support for carers is vital and I want to shine the spotlight on the local support available for those who have caring responsibilities - if you're a carer, you're not alone.

As a carer, looking after your own wellbeing is just as important as the care you give to others. Sometimes you may feel that you don’t have time, you’re not a priority or your needs don’t matter, but looking after your own health and wellbeing is crucial.

Being well enables you to provide the support your loved one needs.

With this in mind I have one important question for all of our carers … are you taking care of your own needs?

To help you look after your own health and wellbeing, there are a number of events you can get involved with this week as well as ongoing support available to you.

WIRED, Wirral's Carers Health and Wellbeing Service, has a fantastic programme of virtual events you can get involved with - and if you miss any of the webinars, they will be recorded for you to watch later.

Virtual events include a wellbeing day, covering relaxation, mindfulness and managing anxiety techniques and yoga for beginners.

Or, have some Friday fun with the quizzes and bingo on Friday (June 11), to round off Carers Week.

The schedule of events is available on WIRED's website - www.wired.me.uk.

Another great resource available is the Wirral Libraries initiative, which aims to promote the benefits of the library services for carers and the people they care for.

Carers are encouraged to take advantage of the loans of e-books and e-audio and the handy click and collect service.

Sound interesting? Visit the Wirral Council website www.wirral.gov.uk and search e-books. You’ll also find a wealth of carer support from resilience building resources to helplines via the Council’s website.