Carers show the true face of caring

A few years ago, Karen gave up work to care for her husband full time. She wanted to work part-time and care but her

Young carer helping his brother

employer was not willing to consider reduced hours. Plus, health and social services calculated that it would cost £160k p/a to provide a care package to meet all of his needs. The cheaper option was to leave the care to her and provide £5k worth of support.

Karen’s husband has a degenerative condition which does not directly cause early death. She pointed out that he could live for another 28 years but that there would be no chance she could carry on that long. She feels that she is being run into the ground and exists to provide care.

For about 90 minutes today, Karen shared her story with Rory Stewart MP, Peter Aldous MP, Laura Sandys MP, Cathy Jamieson MP, Andrew Bridgen MP, Stephen Mosley MP, Jonathan Lord MP and Tracey Couch MP.

James (aged 19) and Samuel (aged 15) were also there speaking to these MPs. Both care for their mothers and have done so for many years. Their message was simple:

  • GPs need to think about who is looking after their patient at home
  • schools have to realise that pupils can be young carers which affects their school work
  • local young carers’ projects can provide vital support

These were young men who were speaking matter of factly about what they do, the impact on their own lives and what more should be done. It always strikes me how mature young carers can be when discussing their situation. Afterwards, we walked around London to see Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, and they  talked about their interests and futures. This should be a time of choices for both.

Karen didn’t seem to have many choices; the map for her life had already been drawn. Her story illustrates why many carers feel taken advantage of and taken for granted.

The galling thing is that Karen could be considered a lucky carer as she might get a personal budget of £500 this year as a result of the Government’s £400m injection into the NHS for carers. Very few carers get a personal budget (fewer than 50,000 in 08/09) and if they do it is usually for approximately £250. So Karen could nearly consider herself a model of how the extra money is providing extra support. But as she pointed out, her £500 will still only provide one hour off every fortnight.

This is not the change that carers need. This can only just be the start or we will leave James and Samuel with no choices, and no chance.

Take care


PS: Carers need continued support. Don’t forget to tune-in to BBC Lifeline’s appeal for carers on BBC One on June 19th at 4:45 pm (if you are in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) and 5:15 (if in Scotland). Please do spread the word.


June 14, 2011 - Posted by | Benefits, breaks for carers, Carers Week 2009, Relationships, Young carers | , , , , , , ,


  1. Thank you so much for all these blogs, they are fantastic!
    I can relate to Karen in some ways, I too had to give up my job to become a full time carer in 2004 when my husband had to retire from his teaching career through ill health. I understand the isolation, the feeling as if your life has been mapped out for you… I was 30 yrs old when I became a full time carer with 2 small children who became young carers. My heart goes out to karen it truly does, I was lucky that my husband has a cdtn that has good days and bad days and after 6 yrs of not working I devised a way of working from home online to fit in around my caring role. I published my first book last yr and am very involved with young carers awareness and the IH awareness campaign.
    Thank you so much for all that you’re doing to raise awareness of carers issues and support us all….. you do an amazing job!
    I just wish that the government would wake up and realise that they would be on their knees without us carers…especially carers like Karen.
    I just hope that they realise how valuable carers are to them soon…very soon and start giving us much more support.


    Comment by caitlinswish | June 14, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Caitlinswish
      Thanks for the very kind and generous comment. And also, thank you for all the support and work that you do promoting support for carers. Danni and Daniel have told me about the great work you have done promoting the schools resource pack.

      Also, folks, anybody wanting to read a good book should pick up Caitlins Wish.


      Comment by Gordon Conochie | June 21, 2011 | Reply

  2. Hi Gordon,
    Thanks so much for your comment.
    It’s my pleasure to promote the schools resource pack…’s fantastic!!
    I wish all schools were using it…hopefully one day eh?
    Just wish there were more hours in a day so I could do more.

    The First edition of Caitlin’s Wish is now out of print, although there are still some copies available through places like Amazon.
    I’m currently creating the revised edition of Caitlin’s Wish which will be published through a new publisher very soon (aiming for Early autumn launch)
    I’ve taken into consideration all the book reviews and reader’s comments from the past year and am re writing it addressing as many points as I possibly can.
    The overwhelming response when I asked what age group people thought it was aimed for was that despite it being aimed at younger children which was reflected in its simplistic writing, everyone who responded agreed that the book was being used by families and children of all ages to act as a catalyst in opening discussions about how people felt regarding their own situations.
    Taking that into consideration I’m rewriting the book so that it’ll be suitable for everyone, with the idea that younger children who aren’t able to read it themselves will have it read to them.

    Thanks again for your support!
    I truly appreciate it.

    Comment by caitlinswish | June 22, 2011 | Reply

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