It’s fair to say that the general election result was as much of a surprise to us at Carers Trust as it was to everyone else, including the Conservative party. We were all set to fire off briefings to those brokering potential coalitions, asking them to prioritise social care, but none of that turned out to be needed.
So now we are taking stock. Continue reading
Our aim at Carers Trust is to influence government policy so that it reflects the needs, concerns, and aspirations of the UK’s 7 million carers.
Today, you can help us take a major step towards achieving that goal.
Voters are going to the polls in one of the closest general elections in decades. No one is quite sure what the outcome will be.
That means every vote is going to count. Continue reading
It’s now less than 50 days until the UK General Election and just over six months since the Scottish independence referendum, and we’re looking at a very different political landscape than before the referendum took place.
For carers, it can be tricky to see exactly what impact Westminster politics has on Scotland. Continue reading
With March upon us, we’re just two months away from a General Election where no one knows what the outcome will be. Carers Trust’s strapline is seven million reasons to care, which refers to the number of unpaid carers in the UK. Over 6 million of the UK’s unpaid carers are aged 18 and over — with that huge number of people — political parties should be falling over themselves to pick up the carer vote. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Note: This is a joint blog from Lynn Williams, Fiona Collie and Claire Cairns who have been leading the National Carer Organisation Election Campaign in Scotland
We are moving into the final days of the election campaign in Scotland and the issues affecting carers and young carers have become a hot topic. Over the last few weeks carers’ organisations have worked hard to ensure that carers and young carers alike have had a chance to question candidates and influence parties’ thinking. Through the press, through on line media and face to face with candidates, carers and young carers have been heard loud and clear on what matters most to them and to their families.
This election marks a turning point for carers; every party has in some form or another directly recognised their contribution with a string of manifesto pledges made which seek to improve carers’ and young carers lives.
We very much welcome specific pledges which seek to involve carers and young carers at the very heart of Government in Scotland. These commitments include Scottish Labour’s pledge to install a Cabinet level Carers’ Champion who can lead and work across all policy areas in Government. The party is also pledging to set up a Carers’ Summit to enable a Scottish Labour Government (or coalition administration involving Labour) to shape policies and decisions affecting carers’ lives (link to Labour party pledges to follow).
The SNP have pledged to deliver an annual Carers’ Parliament to give carers and young carers a direct say in the work of the Government and the Scottish Parliament. http://manifesto.votesnp.com/carers.
If realised, any one of these commitments will give carers and young carers a voice in shaping decisions that affect their lives at the highest levels of Government.
Other parties such as the Scottish Lib Dems are looking to extend the rights that carers have and improve local service delivery. http://www.scotlibdems.org.uk/files/SLD2011manifesto.pdf.
Labour join the Lib Dems in pledging to investigate a right to respite for carers. http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/uploads/938e3455-1814-0b84-e115-8ddec3a327b5.pdf
Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives have costed a substantial investment in additional respite and many of the smaller parties have made a range of commitments to carers. http://www.scottishconservatives.com/downloads/scottish-conservative-manifesto-2011.pdf
Carers’ issues are indeed one of this election’s hot topics. But one commentator in the press recently said that manifestos are not worth the paper they are written on – and that might well be the case.
But as part of Scotland’s Carers Organisations we are making our own pledge to you – that we will work together tirelessly to bring parties to account whether in Government or opposition on the pledges they have made. We will continue to work directly with Ministers and MSPs in opposition to build on what has already been achieved for Scotland’s carers; we are also already planning for the Scottish Local Elections next year – service delivery locally is a key concern.
So there is much to look forward to and much still to do. Please continue to work with us to help make the lives of Scotland’s carers and young carers the best that they can be – to ensure that their contribution is truly recognised. Our Scottish Carers’ Manifesto – shaped by carers and young carers – will continue to be the basis for our campaigning work at national and local level. You can also continue to have your say on our ‘Carers Votes Count’ Facebook pages.
To the 5th May and beyond!!
Lynn, Claire and Fiona On behalf of Scotland’s National Carer Organisations
This blog was written by Carole Cochrane, Chief Executive at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers
Today is the first day of my last month as Chief Executive of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. I have worked with and for The Trust for over 17 years so it is with a real mixture of feelings that I am writing this blog.
When I started back in 1994 it was to establish one of the first Princess Royal Trust Carers’ Centres. Those were such exciting times filled with hope and aspirations.
In 1995 we had the Carers (Recognition & Services) Act. This was the first piece of legislation that really recognised the role of carers, their needs and the benefits of ensuring they have support in their own right.
Malcolm Wicks MP did a great job pushing the bill through and I remember so well the feeling of elation that we now had something on the statute books about and for carers. I also remember a feeling of frustration that no money came with the Act. Good local authorities were already looking at ways to support carers!
I remember working with the head of the local social work team to train all their staff on the contents of the Act. This proved to be a brilliant opportunity to form real lasting relationships between the Carers’ Centre and the social work team, and between social workers and the carers who helped with the training.
I was extremely proud that following this training the Carers’ Centre was no longer seen as a place to avoid, but rather a place for social workers to turn to for information, advice and support. The Trust was able to grow and between us we delivered some real ground breaking support.
There have been a few significant pieces of legislation passed since then, including the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 and The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004, and I am sure there will be further development to ensure carers’ rights regarding access to accurate and timely information, emotional and practical support, and respite breaks.
Some things have changed for the better since 1994 but some have not. My fear as I leave is that in these austere times the much needed support for carers may get watered down and what I still to this day believe is a fantastic model of local carers support services will be diluted.
Having witnessed first-hand the difference our network of local carer services can make to the lives of carers and those they care for I truly hope that this is not the case.
Last year in the run up to the elections we saw all of the main party leaders speak about the need to support carers and of the fantastic work that carers do. Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg, remember your words and stay true to ensuring carers do have the support they need to fulfil their caring roles and be able to be full citizens of the UK.
Leaders of parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland must also prioritise carers and I know colleagues are working to push this in preparations for upcoming elections there.
So as I reach my final weeks with The Trust what will I miss? When my children were young and when I cared for my husband, work had to be around these very important roles so lots of part-time, evening and night working.
For the past three years I have spent most of my working week travelling and being away from home, and I know I won’t miss that. But I will really miss the camaraderie of colleagues, network members, and carers’ organisations that I have worked alongside to try to improve the lives of carers.
I will miss the engagement with carers. Meeting carers whether at Pontin’s when we did the carers breaks there; at Carers’ Centres or conferences and other events has always kept me both grounded and focused.
I will miss working with our President HRH The Princess Royal who I have found to be extremely supportive and knowledgeable about the cause, and incredibly hard working.
You cannot do a job like this and just walk away. Although I am not sure how, when or where, I do know that I will continue to watch what is happening and continue to do whatever I can to influence better support services for carers.
My first highlight of 2010 actually started in December 2009. I got a call from somebody at the Lib Dems asking if I could produce various proposals regarding carers for their manifesto. Fast forward to February 2010, and the Lib Dems announce their election manifesto will include £500m to support carers.
March saw a roundtable discussion with HRH The Princess Royal, carers and Ministerial representation from the three main parties – Phil Hope, Stephen O’Brien, and Paul Burstow. A year after we started warning the Government that their £150m to the NHS for carers wasn’t being spent on carers, Phil Hope belatedly pledged that Labour would act.
It was near the end and there was a question about caring for an elderly population and Clegg answered that this means we must support carers. But more importantly, Brown and Cameron felt that they had to speak about carers – it had become an issue that party leaders had to talk about. And they did again during the second TV debate.
Now you may say talk is cheap and often leads to nothing, but in May when the new Coalition’s Programme for Government was published, proposals to increase support for carers was in there when other issues that were not. That Clegg and Cameron had made public pledges about carers helped to make this happen.
It was this Coalition pledge that led in November to £400m over four years being announced to increase support for carers. Importantly, the Government have instructed the NHS to work with local carers’ organisations to publish policies, plans and budgets of how they will support carers. This could make sure the money is spent on carers as it should be.
The last highlight was in the NHS Outcomes Framework, published 20th Dec in time for Christmas. The NHS will be measured for their ability to help carers enjoy a quality of life that we all expect to have. Finally, the NHS will have to take an interest in the millions of friends and relatives who take on caring roles after discharge from hospital.
These are my highlights from 2010, but I know that despite progress there will be carers whose situations will be untouched by pledges and improvements. 2011 will be a challenging year and we’ll be working hard to make sure we keep moving forward and that more carers get the support they need and deserve.
I hope you all have a good Christmas and New Year, and that Santa is good to you of course. Thank you for all of the comments on the various posts this year; the discussions are useful for us and I hope interesting for readers. Probably more so than my blog!
Take care all
It’s the waiting that’s the worst. So say civil servants, local authorities and the NHS as they wait to find out exactly what the Government plans are. Carers are maybe more used to waiting.
They wait months for a hoist that will help lift a disabled husband out of bed. They wait for information and basic training to care for a daughter dying of cancer. They wait for a break from caring 24/7 for elderly parents who live with them.
Words are spoken and strategies published but for too many, the waiting continues.
I don’t think anybody should underestimate the scale of what new Government ministers have to learn and comprehend in a very short space of time. There are also lots of competing priorities to order but next week is Carers Week and it is time for carers to wait no longer.
I met Paul Burstow MP (new Minister for social care) on Monday. He told me that they made a firm pledge to increase access to respite care and they would deliver on it. Carers now need to know how this will be achieved and when.
I also met the new Labour shadow Minister for social care – Barbara Keeley MP. She has consistently campaigned for carers locally and in Parliament and worked on carers’ issues before entering Parliament. I also met her fellow shadow Minister for Health, Diana Johnson MP who has supported local carers and carers’ organisations.
The appointments of Burstow and Keeley are positive but this will not mean that all the policy changes carers need will happen instantly – or at all. But, I do believe we have two people who regularly meet, listen to and understand carers. The election is passed, new ministers are appointed and the waiting must end – it’s time for change.