The importance of informal carers has only been partially recognised in the UK. A brief examination of recent policy such as the UK Carers Act will highlight the need for further action in this area. The conceptual debate about ‘what is caring’ is summarised: does it involve physical activities only? Are emotional elements also involved? The significance of the informal caregiver's role is discussed. Informal caregiving can bring rewards, but it often has to coincide with other equally demanding roles including employment.