NEARLY 190,000 people are providing unpaid care and assistance to a member of their family or friend, according to new Census 2011 data published today.
It showed that 6.2 million hours of this care is given by carers weekly, an average of 33.6 hours of unpaid help per carer.
Women provide two thirds of this form of care while elderly people over 70 years are spending 800,000 hours a week looking after others.
The census also revealed 4,338 children under 15 years of age are responsible for caring for others and they account for 2.3pc of all carers.
Children under 9 years and under are providing 13,738 hours of care while 10 to 14 year olds are devoting 24,758 hours to the needs of other children and adults.
The figures show that a 595,335 people in the population had a disability in 2011 of whom 305,607 (51.3pc) were female.
Disability included sight and deafness problems, intellectual disability, difficulty learning, psychological problems, pain, breathing or long term illness.