Carers Week kicks off

I wouldn’t say it’s like waking up on Christmas morning, but you do get a buzz at the start of National Carers Week. And some people are so eager to get it going that hundreds of carers and supporters completed a ten-mile walk along the River Thames to raise awareness and funds. They even had a tiny little dog as a mascot that raised hundreds of pounds.

My Carers Week kicked off with a carers information drop in service for MPs and peers held in Parliament yesterday. Barbara Keeley MP kindly organised the room for us and in the two hour period we got 10 MPs dropping in to ask our carers support workers about the issues that carers face, and also the problems they face trying to deliver support services for carers.

Some of the MPs were quite well versed in carers’ issues but it was good to see a couple of MPs who have never been involved before. There was one moment when we had an MP from each party there. Luckily no referee was needed and indeed two of the rival MPs wanted to have their picture taken together with our support workers. They must be friendlier sorts down Somerset way…

One of these MPs was a Lib Dem who I had quite an in-depth discussion with. He certainly seems a sincere and intelligent man and asked what the one thing that carers wanted was. I admit to being greedy by nature so said that carers would want at least two things – greater access to information and emotional support, and greater provision of respite breaks.

But it got me thinking afterwards that it was wrong to think that the multitude of problems that six million carers face can be solved by one sole policy change. Some carers would see increasing Carer’s Allowance as the main concern; others would see accessing respite as vital so that they can combine working and caring. Or should we be training health and social care professionals to more regularly identify carers and offer them support?

Carers come from all walks of life – young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural, straight and gay, black and white. Each has their own set of problems to face meaning there isn’t a single magical solution. It will take long-term dedication and drive to make the changes needed to improve carers’ lives and MPs will have to face up to that.

Take Care,



June 6, 2009 Posted by | Carers Week 2009 | , , | 1 Comment