The manager of Helensburgh and Lomond Carers Centre has spoken of the “surge” of unpaid carers seeking financial help amidst the cost-of-living crisis.

Sharon Richardson’s comments come after “worrying” statistics released by Argyll and Bute’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau which detail the financial struggles many carers are facing.

The bureau’s research showed that 85 per cent of unpaid carers have had to change their work and study to adapt to their duties, over 40 per cent had to undertake low paid work to fit their lifestyles, and almost 30 per cent admitted to struggling financially.

In response to the findings, Sharon acknowledged the rise of people seeking help from their services caused by the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis and urged carers in need to get in touch before it is too late.

She said: “Unpaid carers in Argyll and Bute are not insulated from the unrelenting pressures experienced by many of those elsewhere in Scotland currently caring for a partner, child, relative or friend.

“We have seen a surge in the number of unpaid carers, seeking information, advice and support over the past three years and are now assisting over a thousand adult and young carers living in Helensburgh and Lomond to manage their caring role.

“The pandemic and cost of living crisis are significant contributary factors behind this increase, in that they aggravated existing vulnerabilities of those providing unpaid care, which included the loss of some services for the person they care for and their inability to take a break from their caring role.

“Our staff and volunteers are well aware of the types of pressures on carers identified by the CAB’s research.

“At this time, our priority is to help them navigate a path through the cost-of-living crisis, and we are working closely with the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau, as well as the statutory, third sector and voluntary groups operating in Helensburgh and Lomond.

“Whilst the number of carers we have registered is continuing to grow, we are acutely aware there are still many unpaid carers living in Helensburgh & Lomond who are not known to us, and we would encourage them to get in touch with the Carers Centre at the earliest opportunity.”

The bureau’s research found that 85 per cent of adult carers have changed their work or study patterns to fit around their caring responsibilities.

Over half of unpaid carers - 52 per cent - stayed in their current job because it fits around their duties as an unpaid carer.

42 per cent accepted low paid work to fit around their unpaid caring responsibilities.

More than a quarter - 28 per cent - of unpaid carers said they are struggling financially and are living paycheque to paycheque – regularly waiting for pay-day, pension or benefits to be paid.

20 per cent shared that they had sold personal possessions or had cashed in savings or pensions to help deal with the rising cost of living.

When asked how they would cover an unexpected expense, such as their fridge breaking down, 36 per cent admitted they would have to borrow money from a friend, use a credit card, or attempt to buy it on an interest free loan.

Eight per cent shared that their credit score wasn’t good so they would have to find a loan, even at a high rate of interest.

An additional 25 per cent said they would hold off with purchases or cut back on other expenditures to save up for it.

A further 22 per cent said they were concerned about being able to afford their rent or mortgage.

An extensive report will be released detailing all the investigation’s findings and the bureau will look to present suggestions to authorities based on these figures.

Bureau manager, Jen Broadhurst, said: “Following a rise in approaches from carers worried about the crisis in the cost of living, we commissioned research to deepen our understanding of the issues this vital group are facing, and reached out to anyone who currently cares for someone, be that a child, partner, friend or other family member.

“We also invited people who have previously cared for someone, as well as those who are likely to find themselves caring in the future to share their views too.

“We want to thank everyone who participated and let them know that the bureau will carefully review all of the information shared in confidence.

“Any recommendations will be made in consultation with local carers centres and colleagues in Citizens Advice Scotland.

“The final report will be shared with local elected members, with the Health and Social Care Partnership and with the Scottish Government.

“Just as Argyll and Bute Carers’ Strategy says, ‘the support and care provided by Carers has never been more extensive and more essential’.”

The research comes as Social Security Scotland works on the Scottish benefit replacement to the Carers Allowance.

The Helensburgh and Lomond Carers Centre offers a variety of services to carers such as access to grants, homework study groups and tutoring for young carers, counselling and therapy, information and advice on topics such as legal issues and benefits, and bereavement support.

Aid provided by the centre is at no cost to the carer as the organisation is funded by the Argyll and Bute Integration Board, the Scottish Government, the National Lottery and Children in Need.

The Helensburgh and Lomond Carers Centre can be contacted by calling 01436 673444 or emailing

To find out more about the centre's services visit: