Party conference season
For a few weeks every autumn the news is full of stories from the party conferences of the three main parties – analysis of the leaders speeches (and what they did or maybe didn’t say), rumours of potential leadership bids from political rivals and news pundits trying to ascertain the mood of the conference delegates.
However there is much more to party conference season than the short snippets that get shown on the news. It’s a really important opportunity for us to speak to key decision makers and to talk about the needs of carers.
In September and October Carers Trust’s Policy Team attended the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Party Conferences in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.
This year’s party conferences gave us the opportunity to catch up with MPs and Peers at a time when all the parties are deciding what is going to be in their manifestos ahead of the General Election in 2015.
The conferences are also attended by Potential Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) and local Government representatives so it is a great time to make new contacts with these key figures and raise the profile of the work we do.
There are numerous events at each conference where we have the chance to draw public attention to the work of Carers Trust and our Network. One morning in Glasgow I was able to ask the Minister for Schools David Laws about our campaign to include young carers in the eligibility criteria for the pupil premium. Not only was this a great opportunity to make the Minister aware of our campaign but asking this question in front of a packed audience meant that afterwards a number of local councillors who were interested in the campaign spoke to me about my question and we were able to reach new supporters for the issue.
At conference this year we took part in events as part of the Care and Support Alliance, a coalition of 75 charities. As an Alliance we are calling on all parties to commit to invest in social care. We spoke to MPs, PPC and Peers about polling carried out that showed social care is a really important issue to the voters. We had a great interactive stand in the conference exhibition hall where importantly they could see key stats for their local area – the number of carers, the number of older people and how many people living with a long term condition or disability.
So after three busy weeks in conference centres across the UK, working to ensure that political parties to take account of and understand the key issues are for carers we are all now back in the office and busy planning for the 2015 General Election. Together with our Network Partners we will be working to make sure that all the candidates in next year’s election understand the needs of carers in their communities, so look out for campaigning activity near you in 2015.
— Kirsty is Policy and Campaigns Officer at Carers Trust