Who Cares?

Only a quarter of Brits would reach out to friends when in serious need

Just over a quarter of the public (26%) would be likely to ask for help from friends if they needed assistance washing and eating, according to a YouGov survey on the limits of friendship, commissioned by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers (The Trust) to launch a new Facebook app, Who Cares?

The survey of 2,059 respondents got people to think about how they would feel asking their friends for help if they were seriously ill and needed assistance to do everyday tasks like eating, washing, dressing and going to the toilet. It shows that just over one in seven (14%) would be likely to ask for help to go to the loo or have their friends clean up after them if they had a toilet-related ‘accident’ like diarrhoea.

Who Cares? is an app that gets you thinking about which one of your friends you would ask to be your carer if you were ill and incapacitated. It then simulates, via Facebook messages, the impact this could have on your (chosen) carers’ social life and friendships.

Hollywood star Michael Sheen is supporting The Trust’s efforts to reach a new audience with their message about issues affecting theUK’s six million unpaid carers. He said: ‘Carers can easily lose friends because of their responsibilities and end up feeling very lonely. I think this Facebook app is a really good way to reach out to an audience that doesn’t usually think about these issues and to raise awareness about what it feels like to have your life taken over by being a carer. It can be very hard and carers need their friends to understand their situation.’

Interestingly, the survey also revealed that when people had to volunteer to help their friends, the numbers shot up. Almost two thirds (66%) of Brits would be likely to volunteer to help a friend wash themselves and eat and just under a half (45%) would be likely to volunteer to help their friends go to the loo.

Liz Fenton, Chief Executive of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, said: ‘We want people to get a feeling for what it’s like to be a carer and how that impacts on all areas of their lives including their friendships and social life. In a recent survey, eight out of ten carers said they have lost friends because of their caring role. We developed the app as a powerful and interactive way to engage people and show them how isolating the carers’ role can be. The app also leads people towards sources of support. Please try the app and if you find it revealing or thought-provoking, share it via Facebook.’

Welsh people were the most likely to say they would help their friends out with 73% saying they would be likely to volunteer to help an incapacitated friend to wash and eat. Londoners were the least likely to volunteer with 60% declaring they would be likely to help their incapacitated friend.

Whether they work or not seems to have little bearing on how willing people are to help their friends but widowed and separated/divorced people seem to be the happiest of all helping out their friends with 69% of people in these categories saying they would be likely to help out a seriously ill friend to wash themselves and eat.

Kirsty Timmins, 29, from Solihull is a parent carer for her five-year-old son who was born with several disabling condition including congenital heart disease and learning difficulties: ‘I think a Facebook app is a great way to get people engaged with the hard realities of being a carer 24 hours a day seven days a week. From the moment my son was diagnosed, I found my old friends drifted away but I made new friends with parents of children with special needs. I have quite a big circle of eight or nine friends who are in the same boat and we use Facebook a lot to speak to each other and message each other with problems.’

The “Who cares?” Facebook app has been created for The Princess Royal Trust for Carers by digital agency, SiftGroups