THIS week is Carers Week, established 25 years ago to highlight the vital contribution made by people who care for a loved one and their need for greater support.

There are 6.5 million people in the UK who care for a loved one, that’s one in eight of us.

I joined Carers Week in Parliament on Monday to sign the pledge to support carers and find out more, and it’s clear that the implications of being a carer for a relative are wide-ranging.

Carers Week’s new research shows, for instance, that unpaid carers are seven times more likely to be lonely than the rest of the population, while 61 per cent report suffering physical ill health as a result of their caring responsibilities.

Caring can be hugely rewarding – but without the right support it is challenging and isolating.

The theme for Carers Week is Get Connected and there is lots of information at

Often small steps can make a huge difference to the lives of carers and people with disabilities.

This is why, ahead of Carers Week, I was pleased to join Allsorts for the announcement that their disabled toilet in Stroud’s Brunel Mall has been granted Changing Places status.

It is the first of its kind in Stroud, and it means those who need a hoist or adult-sized changing bench can enjoy coming to the town without additional stress.

Allsorts’ work is a fantastic step towards reducing isolation and making Stroud a town that is more inclusive and accessible.

Sometimes just changing one thing can open up a whole world of possibilities.