By John and Anne Duddington

We all know the story of the paralytic man brought to Jesus as told in Mark 2:1-4. However, if we read it carefully we become aware of a group who played a vital but often overlooked part:

He was preaching the word to them when some people came bringing him a paralytic carried by four men, but as the crowd made it impossible to get the man to him, they stripped the roof over the place where Jesus was; and when they had made an opening, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic lay.

We focus on the paralytic man and on Jesus, but what of the four men who went to extreme lengths to ensure that the man they cared for was able to get near to Jesus? They were his carers. In the New Testament in particular there are constant references to carers who enabled those who sought Jesus to meet him. Yet they fade into the background.

National Carers Week runs this year from June 12 to June 18 with the theme of ‘‘Building Carer-Friendly Communities’’. Many of us will become carers sometime in our lives and it is estimated that the UK’s 6.5 million unpaid carers save the state £132 billion per year. Without their contribution, health and social care services would collapse.

A carer can be defined as someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help. This could be caring for a relative, partner, a child or a friend who is ill, frail, disabled, or has mental health or substance misuse problems.

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