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Carers Week 2013: our carers report back from Parliament

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This week is Carers Week!

Below, Ruth Dunne and Roma Mills, both carers from Hertfordshire tell us about their experience meeting with MPs and advocating for carers at the Carers Week 2013 Speed Networking Event in Parliament, which took place earlier in the week…


Ruth Dunne

This is a week of firsts for me as I have never blogged before — and yesterday I went to the Houses of Parliament for the first time. I was asked by Carers in Herts (through Carers Trust) to attend a speed networking event to mark the start of Carers Week.

I was not sure what to expect so was a little nervous. I attended with Roma Mills who is also a carer and also works for Carers in Herts. We were both guided expertly through the event by Emma Smale from Carers Trust who also gave us a short tour of Parliament. I had not been before and I was struck in particular by the grandeur of the House of Lords.

The Speed Networking took place in a room next to Westminster Hall and many organisations that represent carers attended including Age UK and Macmillan. MPs were free to come and talk to each organisation and collect literature during the two hours we were there.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but most of the MPs were friendly and listened attentively to what we had to say.

I have often found that sharing your personal experiences can have more of an impact on the listener than speaking about facts and figures (although these are important too).

I was very proud to represent the interests of those like me who care for an adult with mental health problems. I often find that we can be over looked — although one in four carers support someone with such problems and people can struggle to understand the types of support we provide and how stressful that can be for us.

The main issues discussed through the afternoon were how important it is to identify Carers at an early stage and how many do not regard themselves as carers but as mums, dads, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters and friends struggling to do their best in difficult situations.

We also discussed the importance of being listened to and given information from professionals that know what they are talking about was. I know that sadly, in my case, this has not always happened and bad advice can do more harm than good.

The importance of GPs being more educated around recognising and supporting carers and how their lack of training in mental health matters could have an adverse impact on carers of those with such problems, was also a talking point. The importance of respite breaks to enable Carers to continue supporting their loved ones and the need for those we care for being able to get work where they can be supported (another issue that can be difficult for those with mental health problems) came up too.

I was impressed by Charles Walker MP from Hertfordshire and Nick De Bois MP from Enfield who both had a good understanding of the issues involved and were willing to help where they could.

I was disappointed that more MPs did not attend but hope that those that did found it a worthwhile experience. I certainly enjoyed it and the time flew by, so thanks again to Carers Trust and all who worked hard to put the event on.

Roma Mills

Well yesterday afternoon was a new experience for me – Speed Networking (not Dating!) with MPs to raise the profile of carers during Carers Week.  Thanks to Carers Trust I was able to attend this event at the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, with fellow Hertfordshire carer Ruth Dunne.

We were able to speak to four MPs and in the main they were interested and well informed about carers’ issues. I pressed the need for early identification, good information and regular breaks!  There were quite a few other MPs talking to people in the room, but they didn’t make it to our table.

It was really good to meet up with Charles Walker MP, the only Hertfordshire MP who was able to attend.  He was interested to hear carers’ experiences of mental health services and keen to support the local implementation of the Triangle of Care.


What carers’ issues would you like to see brought up with your MP? What do you think the Government could do more of to make sure people are better supported and prepared to care? Leave your comments below.

The theme of Carers Week 2013 is “Prepared to Care?”. Visit the Carers Week website for details and get involved on Twitter by following the #preparedtocare hashtag.

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June 13, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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