50 years caring for carers - carers trust

Labour MP Alf Morris successfully introduces the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act.


Crossroads storyline

Sandy (played by Roger Tonge) becomes paralysed after a car crash and is cared for by his mother, Meg, who is the owner of the Crossroads motel. When Meg (played by Noele Gordon), takes a holiday, the script-writers realise there is no one to look after Sandy. They acknowledge this is a huge issue faced by unpaid family carers: how do you take a break when someone depends on you? There was no Government funding for family carers and no charity to support them. In the show, Meg launches a fictional ‘Caring for Carers’ scheme. Letters and calls came in asking about the scheme, and Noele Gordon decided it was time for ATV “to do something about it”. “Wouldn’t it be a good idea”, she said, “if we could have people going into their homes regularly to help look after them?” ATV looked into creating an organisation that they would fund for the first two years of operation. This resulted in the setting up of the Crossroads Care Attendant Scheme, which was initially for people with spinal injuries but soon included anyone with a physical disability.


Labour Government elected with Harold Wilson as Prime Minister. Alf Morris, later Lord Morris of Manchester, is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State. He approves £10,000 of matched funding for the Crossroads Care Scheme, and later becomes a patron of the National Association.

  • Crossroads Care Attendant Scheme set up in 1974 with a grant from ATV of £10,000 to establish Crossroads Caring for Carers, supporting 28 families in its first year.
  • Recruitment of carer attendants begins in March.
  • Charity officially launches in July with a garden party in Rugby attended by Noele Gordon, Roger Tonge and Noel Crane, who was the inspiration for the character of ‘Sandy’.


Social Security Act: The Act set out a range of benefits and entitlements and introduced the Invalid Care Allowance for carers.

Over the two years of ATV funding, more than 3,000 visits are made by their paid carers to homes so family carers could take a break.


  • Crossroads Care Attendant Scheme becomes a national scheme in April 1977.
  • The European Economic Community (EEC) makes a grant of £100,000 for a research project into housing disabled people. This project taken on by the Crossroads Trust with a contract issued by the Department for the Environment.

Government encourages integration of health and local authorities.


Conservative Government elected.

Margaret Thatcher elected as first female Prime Minister.


  • During the International Year of Disabled People in 1981, the Crossroads project begins some pilot schemes for people with mental illnesses.
  • Roger Tonge (who played Sandy in Crossroads) dies of Hodgkins disease.




Conservative Government re-elected.


House of Commons Committee on Social Care supports concept of community care.

Social Services Inspectorate established for personal social services in England.


Audit Commission reports on policy failure to move care into the community.

Disabled Persons Act seeks to improve services for disabled people.


Conservative Government re-elected.


White Paper proposes transferring responsibility for procuring community care services to local authorities.


National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 introduces requirement for local authorities to help vulnerable adults remain in the community. Development of local Crossroads Care Schemes continues. Each scheme is affiliated to a national association that provides a policy framework and insurance. The George Square Trust (predecessor of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers) approaches Social Services in the London Borough of Sutton to explore a project to set up the Sutton Carers Centre, one of the first Carer Centres in the UK. The Centre is opened by HRH The Princess Royal.


The Princess Royal Trust for Carers is founded on the initiative of The Princess Royal, as the successor to the George Square Trust.


Conservative Government re-elected with John Major as Prime Minister. The Young Carers Research Group founded as the first research group to focus on young carers. Norma Major, wife of Prime Minister John Major, becomes Patron of a Cambridgeshire Crossroads Care Scheme.


The Young Carers Research Group publishes ‘Children as Carers’, the first paper focusing on experiences of young carers.


Carers Recognition and Services Act 1995: gives unpaid carers the right to ask for an assessment of their needs.


Community Care Act 1996 empowers local authorities to make direct payments to people assessed as needing community care services.


Labour Government elected with Tony Blair as Prime Minister.


Health Act 1999 leads to formation of ‘one stop shops’ for health and social care services. Caring About Carers – the first national strategy for carers is published. Government publishes charter on care, setting out how health and social services should collaborate to deliver adult social care. UK Government devolves powers for health and social care to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd.


Care Standards Act passed. Establishes independent regulatory board for social care. The first English Young Carers Festival takes place for 600 young carers. Carers and Disabled Children Act: establishes carers’ right to assessment of their needs and ability to care.


Unpaid carers (including young carers) are counted on the Census for the first time. Health and Social Care Act, 2001: establishes partnerships that pool health and social care resources into one organisation for commissioning of services.


Domiciliary Care Regulations enacted.


White Paper commits to developing joint health and social care records and care plans.


Putting People First: policy vision to ensure independent living for all adults through greater collaboration between local and national government, voluntary sector, providers and social care regulators. Standing Commission on Carers set up as an advisory body to Government. It is made up of members from both Crossroads Care schemes and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers.


The National Young Carers Coalition was set up by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, The Children’s Society and other organisations to campaign on behalf of young carers.

The first Scottish Young Carers Festival is held for 350 young carers from across Scotland. The National Carers Strategy (ten year strategy) is published.


Care Quality Commission (CQC) established.


Conservative – Liberal Democrats Coalition Government takes power. Andrew Dilnot appointed to chair of the Commission on Funding of Care and Support. Getting It Right For Young Carers: The Young Carers Strategy for Scotland, the first young carer specific strategy in Scotland, launches.

  • Triangle of Care scheme launches in July to encourage partnership working with carers at all levels of care. Carers Trust now leads on the Triangle of Care across England.
  • Young Carers Grant Programme Launches to reduce impact of caring on young carers.
  • Crossroads Caring for Carers supports 200 member schemes in England and Wales. 33,000 paid carers provide four million hours a year in care visits so family carers could take a break.


  • Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance is formed.
  • Actor Pam Ferris presents BBC Lifeline Appeal for the Princess Royal Trust for Carers.
  • Carers Trust commences work with healthcare professionals to increase carer awareness, identification and referral.

Dilnot report published in July 2011. Recommends an individual’s contribution to social care costs capped at £35,000.


Health and Social Care Act: establishes local health and wellbeing boards to encourage integrated commissioning of health and social care services.

  • By 2012 the network of Crossroads Care schemes are supporting 43,000 unpaid carers and their families.
  • April 1 2012 – Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care merge to form Carers Trust.Anne Roberts, Chief Executive of Crossroads Care becomes interim CEO of the newly formed Carers Trust.
  • Carers Trust commissions research on the caring journey of carers for people with dementia. Research used for publication ‘A Road Less Rocky’.


  • CT commissions research on obstacles facing young adult carers transitioning to adulthood, including poor educational attainment and chances to access employment. Research used in publication ‘Time to be Heard’.
  • Mind The Gap project launches in Northern Ireland with aim of making unpaid carers there more aware of support available, and able to access it.
  • Carers Trust sets up Young Carers in Schools project with the Children’s Society.

Following extensive campaigning by the National Young Carers Coalition, the Government introduces an amendment to the Children and Families Bill to give young carers new legal rights.


Children and Families Act 2014, Care Act 2014 and The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 are passed, giving young carers in England and Wales legal rights as young carers for the first time.

  • Making a Step Change project aims to ensure effective implementation by local authorities of their duties under the Care Act 2014.
  • Carers Trust Wales sets up Going Higher project, working across universities in Wales to develop recognition of carers.


Conservative Government elected. NHS England launches its first ever NHS England Health Champions programme for young carers. Autumn Statement announces additional £3.5 billion for social care through Better Care Fund.

  • The Young Carers in Schools initiative launches for schools in England and the Going Higher in Scotland campaign launches for universities in Scotland.
  • About Time: Time for Change launches - Grants aimed to enhance support available to young adult carers in addressing issues of society disengagement and alienation from having long-term goals. Reaches 5,506 young adult carers.
  • Know Your Rights guide - Carers Trust releases a unique guide for young carers and young adult carers explaining their rights to assessment and support with their caring role.

Actress Jacki Piper’s husband Douglas is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and Jacki receives support from Crossroads Care Richmond and Kingston upon Thames. Jacki, who appeared as an extra in the original ‘Crossroads’ series in the 1970s is now starring in the new ITVX drama, ‘Nolly’, focusing on Noele Gordon.


  • The first Young Carers Awareness Day is held.
  • Carers Trust’s Working for Carers launches, a London-wide project that supports unpaid carers, aged 25 or over, to move closer to employment.By September 2022, 1,219 carers and former carers had registered with the project.
  • HRH The Princess Royal opens Wigan and Leigh Carers Centre in April.

UCAS announces that they will add caring responsibilities to their application form. The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 is passed entitling young carers in Scotland to a “Young Carer Statement”.


Minority Conservative Government takes power after General Election. Poll finds 57% of Britons prepared to pay more tax to fund social care. Going Higher for Student Carers Recognition Award launches to make it easier for universities in Scotland to identify and support student carers.


UCAS adds caring responsibilities to post-graduate application form.

  • Carers Trust Wales Youth Council is formed.
  • Working with our Youth Council, Carers Trust Wales aims to influence the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales to dedicate elected positions on the Welsh Parliament to young carers to ensure that their voices are heard.


  • Going Further for Student Carers launches to make it easier for colleges in Scotland to identify and support student carers.

Conservative Government elected with a large majority in General Election. Scottish Government introduces Young Carer Grant: a yearly payment for young carers aged 16, 17 or 18 years old who care for an average of 16 hours a week.


HM The Queen and HRH The Princess Royal join an online video call with carers during Carers Week in the Queen’s first ever Zoom call.

COVID-19 pandemic results in national lockdown and closure of carer support services across the UK.

  • Carers Trust launches Emergency Appeal for Carers to fund emergency grants for unpaid carers struggling to cope with the impact of the pandemic and lockdown.
  • Carers Trust launches The Princess Royal’s Respite Fund for Carers.


Our research secured commitment from the Welsh Government to introduce a Young Carers ID Card scheme.

People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform paper sets out vision for improving adult social care in the communities.


Carers Trust launches ‘Building a Caring Society’, its strategy for 2022 – 2025.

UCAS adds caring responsibilities to undergraduate application form. The First Welsh Young Carers Festival takes place for nearly 300 young carers and young adult carers. The Health and Care Act is passed, giving carers (including young carers) in England legal rights in relation to hospital discharge and places duties on Integrated Care Boards in relation to carers. The Young Carers Alliance launches – a network for organisations and individuals wanting to improve support for young carers and young adult carers. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Young Carers and Young Adult Carers is formed with Carers Trust holding the secretariat.


Young carers are added to the school census return for the first time. Carers Trust takes on the hosting of the Young Carers Alliance.