We lobby for carers. We always will.
Lobbying has had a bit of a bad press recently. It comes with all sorts of connotations. Often the press make it sound like it’s all about big business paying its way into the good books with Government to line the pockets of shareholders.
In recent days, the role of charities in lobbying has been questioned too, with one MP saying:
“They [charities] should concentrate resources on helping people rather than campaigns, lobbying, and administration.”
Money isn’t everything
Believe me it’s not all about big bucks. Lobbying is, purely and simply, about using influence, argument and evidence persuasively to achieve change. It doesn’t have to cost a lot.
Carers Trust is not an organisation with pots of money, but we’ve been effective. Without our work, fewer carers would have access to breaks. Fewer mental health carers would have their rights recognised. Young carers would get less support in school. Fewer GPs would be recognising how and why they should support carers. And, once the Government delivers on its promises in the Children and Families Bill, more young carers would be doing caring roles that damage their health, wellbeing and future. There’s still a long way to go, but we have had an impact.
Concerns over new restrictions
Our parliamentary system needs to be open and transparent, and shouldn’t be open to influence by who has the fattest wallet. Because sometimes it’s a process that has been abused, the Government is intending to introduce a Bill to limit the ways in lobbying can be done. It plans to restrict spending on campaigns and make it difficult for charities to work in coalitions.
I have no problem with being more transparent. I will gladly report who we’ve met, what about, and how much we’ve spent, as often as anyone likes. I do have a problem with misunderstanding what campaigning and lobbying is all about and how it helps people who otherwise don’t get their voice heard.
It’s about improving lives
At Carers Trust, campaigning and lobbying is first, second, third, last and always about helping people. It’s about seeing that the situations carers find themselves in, struggling through often with insufficient help, sometimes with their own health deteriorating, are unacceptable. It’s about saying that as a country we can do better for carers, and that better support needs to be put in place.
We work in coalition, like the National Young Carers Coalition, because it makes sense. Why spend ten charities’ funds campaigning on one issue when we can split the costs between us and achieve more into the bargain by having a bigger voice? Why should ten charities have a meeting with one crucial MP, when we could all meet together and save everyone’s time and money? To not work in coalition, or to make them disincentives, would be ludicrous.
The NHS, social care, benefits and housing should meet carers’ needs better, support for carers should be prioritised, employment law should enable people to work and care, and young carer should be protected from inappropriate levels of caring. If these things happened, most carers wouldn’t need so much support from charities. Most would not find themselves in crisis. Most would have the rights and support they deserve and be able to get on with their lives in the way they want.
Lobbying and campaigning is needed. If we don’t campaign or lobby, we are accepting that charities’ role is just to pick up the pieces when lives are in crisis, rather than helping to ensure their lives are better in the first place.
Continuing our commitment
We think long and hard about our campaigns and lobbying and we campaign responsibly. We can’t and won’t sit by, watching what is happening to carers and think: oh well, that’s just too bad.
We will do what we can to stop it happening and find better solutions. We will work with MPs, government and local decision makers to put in place policies which mean carers don’t have to fight so hard for everything themselves or wait till things get desperate.
Carers Trust is here to make sure carers voices are heard as loudly as possible, by the people who have the power to make a difference. That is our job and we will keep doing it.
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About this blog
|I’m Moira Fraser, Director of Policy at Carers Trust.Together with our Network Partners, we provide support, information, advice and services for the millions of people caring at home for a family member or friend. I ensure that the issues affecting carers are taken to Government, and sometimes they listen to us and …read more|
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