No help for immigrant carers

I care for my spouse, who is British. The clinic where they receive services has a carer’s department or something, and when I was at my wit’s end around their return from the psychiatric hospital, I was offered a carer’s assessment. My life is full of work, worry, cleaning up after my spouse when they are home, and spending the rest of my energy going to visit them when they are in hospital. The carer’s service wanted to give me a Carer’s Direct Payment, a one off grant of up to £300 to spend on something to help me take care of myself and my health. We had talked about what I could spend it on. I was interested in art and ballet and meditation, and found a Mindful Ballet class. Perfect! Three birds with one stone! An hour a week that was just for me, peace of mind, and a hobby I’d always wanted to try.

But then came the hammer: My visa says “No public funds.” I though it only applied to Carer’s Allowance, but it turns out this counts too. So even though my partner is British, and a healthy carer would help them, even though they don’t work because of their mental illness, and I am the one supporting them financially, because of where I was born, I can’t get a break. Now the service wants to know what else they can offer, and I don’t even know what to say! They planted this hopeful idea in my head and were going to help me make it possible, and now they can’t. It’s not their fault, but if I knew anything else that would help me, I could ask for it, but I don’t!

Call Citizen’s Advice first thing tomorrow morning. They can advise you on immigration and benefits. Additionally this might be helpful.

Here’s the issue, straight from that website:

"In most cases, you will not be eligible for UK benefits if you are classed as “subject to immigration control” for social security purposes.

You’re classed as subject to immigration control if you’re not an EEA national and:

you require leave to enter or remain in the UK but do not have it
you have leave to enter or remain in the UK that has a public funds restriction, or
you have leave to enter or remain and are the subject of a formal undertaking"

I agree this doesn’t seem fair.

Our local Carer’s Association runs various free activities each week/month such as yoga, art and crafts, laughing therapy etc Does your association run any free events you could attend? Probably not a perfect fit as Mindful Ballet, but might be a start. You could also contact the Carers Uk helpline to see if they have any suggestions that might help:

You can email us or contact us and we will respond to your enquiries within 10 working days, although it can often be sooner.

Our telephone helpline providing information is open on Mondays and Tuesdays between 10am and 4pm - 0808 808 7777

My only other suggestion, is that there might be a charity grant that you could be eligible for.


After that disappointment, I did do a furious Google search and found a carer’s art group and some therapy I might be able to get access to if they ever contact me again. I’m currently in self-guided CBT, even though CBT isn’t really my thing (I get insulted by the idea that my stress is due to “unhelpful thinking” instead of a REALLY STRESSFUL LIFE! Before I got married, I was a professional caregiver (still am) and was being attacked a lot at work, so I was trying to find ways to cope, and found a carer’s meditation at the Buddhist Centre. I didn’t end up going at the time, but I have been once, and all of the people there seemed to do SO MUCH through their carer’s hub. I think all that would be impossible for me, trying to balance work, a long commute, and home, but it’s nice to know I have some options. I had never heard of a carer’s hub until then.

A lot of these carer’s websites shake the finger at you about “taking care of yourself too” but never tell you what that really looks like, and besides telling me off, it sometimes feels like that’s another obligation to cram into my life.

But it is just really unfair. Immigrants have additional stresses, missing our families, social discrimination, sometimes not knowing the language well, and any little bit helps. I’m not sure what to ask from the people who did the carer’s assessment, because they say they still want to help me, but all they’ve really been interested in is giving me money. Could they give it to my spouse instead?

I’m glad you have found some alternative activities, though it’s no good trying to do them stresses you out. It might be that your “me” time is best spent, doing not a lot e.g. relaxing/sleeping/having a bath/going for a walk/listening to music etc

It’s my understanding that Carer’s grants go to the carer only, but there is no harm in asking if they can find a creative way round the problem.