WHEN we look back on this time of crisis, we will remember the rousing tributes to NHS frontline and care home staff, delivery and public transport drivers, supermarket workers, and volunteers packing food parcels and running helplines.

The people we probably won’t remember are those who spent lockdown toiling round the clock in their own homes as unpaid carers.

Yet new figures released for Carers Week - taking place this week - show an estimated 4.5 million people in the UK have become unpaid carers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic - on top of the 9.1 million people already caring.

These carers are the forgotten heroes of lockdown, and for many the crisis has brought them close to burnout. Reduced or closed support services have meant people are picking up even more care for family members who are elderly, ill or have disabilities. This can be food shopping, collecting medicine, managing finances and providing emotional support. Those who live with loved ones they care for have more intense roles, such as personal care, administering medication and preparing meals. And there is currently no respite. So it’s not surprising that over half have reported feeling overwhelmed with caring responsibilities during the pandemic and are worried about burning out.

In Scotland, around 83,000 carers will get an extra £230.10 Coronavirus Carer’s Allowance Supplement, thanks to a proposed £19.2 million investment proposed by the Scottish Government. This is, say carers’ charities, an important recognition not just of unpaid carers, but the additional pressures they’re under at this time. Now there are calls for the UK Government to step up and ensure that the rest of Britain’s eligible carers also receive a coronavirus supplement.

A Carers UK survey, Caring Behind Closed Doors, revealed that during lockdown 81 per cent of unpaid carers have had extra financial costs. And the added pressure of more care with no proper breaks and limited support services - as well as the worry of getting ill or self-isolating, leaving loved ones vulnerable - will be taking its toll on the mental and physical health of many carers.

More than 60 per cent of people who have started caring since the coronavirus outbreak are also working.

For years I juggled a full-time job with helping to care for my mum, who was so ill she couldn’t dress, wash or feed herself. I lived in a state of limbo, between my home and my parents’, which was exhausting. I know how demanding, miserable, frustrating and isolating caring can be - and I shudder to imagine all that under lockdown, with no respite to look forward to.

I also remember feeling invisible as a carer. And that’s how many ‘hidden carers’ will be feeling in lockdown. So let’s hear it for the Carers Week theme - ‘Making Carers Visible’. This is being highlighted locally by Carers’ Resource, which supports carers in various ways and has continued to do so online and via ‘phone and video link in lockdown.

The charity is holding a range of Carers Week events, from mindfulness sessions to a 25k daily walk challenge.

In caring for the vulnerable, unpaid carers are carrying out just as crucial a role as care staff and NHS workers,yet they don’t get the same recognition. And they can’t clock off and relax after a shift.

I feel for carers in this crisis, and I hope it’s a turning point in how society sees and treats them. Three in five people will become carers at some point - you might be one of them.