Care o’Clock: Young carers’ Q&A with Robert Buckland MP

As part of our Care o’ Clock campaign to help raise awareness about the issues faced by young adult carers, young carers from Swindon Carers Centre recently put some questions forward to their MP Robert Buckland, to give him the opportunity to tell us about why he thinks young carers and young adult carers should be supported and what can be done to make a positive difference to their lives.

Robert Buckland MP has been working with Carers Trust to help ensure that the Government changes the law for young carers so that they stronger rights to assessment and support.

Young carers: What do you think are the biggest issues for young carers and their families in your area (Swindon) and across the country?

Robert Buckland MP: The recognition of their needs is the most important issue facing young carers and families in England. We know that the official number of young carers is only the tip of the iceberg because many are not identified, let alone receive the support that they need. Continue reading

November 4, 2013 Posted by | Young carers | , , , | 2 Comments

Tweeting the terrific #twobby

Yesterday was one of those amazing days that makes you glad to be alive.

Down at Westminster, around 1000 people – disabled people, older people, carers, family members, friends , and supporters of charities, took their message to MPs on social care reform. The issue is hard, and the care problems that people experience are painful, but the message was upbeat, positive but determined. The place was buzzing and it was all about people having their voices heard. End the Care Crisis now.

@CarerWatch Care reform must succeed where welfare reform failed #twobby

We’ve been told we’re too quiet and we don’t make enough of a fuss. So yesterday, folks, was our chance to make that fuss and we did that, in person and online.

The Care and Support Alliance had been planning this mass lobby on care reform for months, and we wondered whether people would come out and support us. For carers, it’s difficult. Many can’t come to Parliament because they are busy caring for someone ( stands to reason really). But we needn’t have worried – people came in their hundreds and it was fantastic to see.

@CarersTweets: Hundreds of carers and disabled people lobbying at parliament today. Great to see you all! #carelobby2012 #twobby

The sight of busloads of older people, people using  wheelchairs or with walking sticks, people with guide dogs, people on their own or in groups,  descending upon Westminster Hall, to a slightly nervous looking bunch of MPs who must have been  wondering quite  what they had let themselves in for, was inspirational.

@richmondmencap just arrived at care lobby … hope to see vince cable… good work everyone… lets stand together #twobby

But this time we hope people who couldn’t make it weren’t disadvantaged  because , through the miracle of modern technology, a new phenomenon happened. Campaigners tweeted their messages to their MPs , or the lobby teams sent them on, and so the Twobby was born! Message upon message upon message telling the story of the day – if you’re a twitterer go online and look for #twobby . I tweeted too! You can find me twittering on @CarersTweets

@DisRightsUK we’re taking part in the world’s first ever #twobby to tell MPs the care system is in crisis #twobby

We think about two thirds of MPs were lobbied yesterday. Thank you everyone who came or tweeted and made it such a success. And thanks , too, to the MPs who came to meet their constituents.  In his Q & A session with campaigners at the end, the Minister for Care Services, Paul Burstow , acknowledged the massive support and said it’s the biggest lobby he’s seen in 15 years . That’s an incredible achievement. We just need to wait and see if it helps us get the outcome we need.

@carelobby2012: ‘We will produce a white paper that genuinely reflects the opinions of people here today’ Paul Burstow #twobby#itsastart

It’s  not too late to write (or tweet) to your MP if you couldn’t make it. This is a problem that won’t be solved in one day. I hope  everyone who came had a terrific time – and  I know you enjoyed the cups of tea!

@age_uk While pausing for a quick cuppa and a cake, we’ve just learnt that some 1000 cups of tea have been supped here at the care #twobby today!

Well I’ll drink to that.


March 8, 2012 Posted by | Carers movement, Social Care | , , | 2 Comments

Prime Minister celebrates Carers Week

Note: The following post is from Beryl Cross, Head of Operations at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers

The Prime Minister hosted a reception for about 150 carers at 10 Downing Street yesterday to celebrate Carers’ Week. I Number 10was there with carers and staff from our Carers’ Centres. You had to be very brave to fight through the melee to get to the Prime Minister, or in Louise’s case perhaps have someone like me to push you in the back to make you do so.

Louise is a young carers who is supported by our Bromley Carers’ Centre, and she gave David Cameron a letter she had written explaining her experience and ideas for supporting young carers.  Moira Fraser, our Director of Policy, was also straight in there, highlighting to David Cameron the need for government to take action on getting NHS money for carers breaks delivered to carers and raising our Give Carers a Break campaign. And it seemed to work as in his speech later in the evening the Prime Minister said the government should “follow through” on getting Primary Care Trusts to use that breaks money for carers.

He also made reference to his own experience as a carer for his son and he gave “a huge thank you” to the carers there for what they do. There were many other Ministers there including Nick Clegg MP, Paul Burstow MP (Minister for Care Services) and Steve Webb MP (Minister for Pensions), plus Tony Baldry MP co-chair the Parliamentary Group on Carers and other MPs who have supported carers in Parliament. They also recognised the massive contribution made by carers.

Jack Dromey MP also asked the Prime Minister about carers during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday to which the PM responded:

“Everyone in the House should welcome the fact that it is carers week. I will be having a reception in No. 10 tonight to celebrate carers week with many people who take part and who are carers. This Government are putting in £400 million to give carers more breaks and £800 million specifically to make sure that those looking after disabled children get regular breaks.”



June 16, 2011 Posted by | Carers Week 2009, Relationships, Social Care, Young carers | , , , , | 5 Comments

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 | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ready for Carers Week 2011

Carers Week 2011 will be the largest awareness raising week in the UK and it begins on Monday 13th June. Over 1500 organisations including Carers’ Centres and Crossroads Care schemes, other charities, local councils, GP surgeries, hospitals and private sector companies will be holding events throughout the week.

My week begins with an event with MPs and carers on Monday, which will be something akin tcarers weeko speed dating. Numerous carers will be sat at various tables and MPs will come in and speak to each one, moving around the tables giving them a chance to hear and discuss what it’s like to be a carer.

The aim is to show MPs the range of people that caring can affect and the different issues involved. So there will be young carers there, older carers, carers who combine work and care, people who care for people who have mental health problems, or learning disabilities, or physical disabilities. I’ll blog on Monday night to let you know how it goes.

On Wednesday, Sheila Gilmore MP is holding a debate in Parliament on carers and the effects of spending cuts on them and there will also be a reception for carers at 10 Downing Street hosted by the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP. We will have a guest blogger reporting back on that one.

Fast forwarding to Sunday 19th June, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers will be featured on the BBC Lifeline Appeal on BBC One at 4.55pm. Do tune in and tell friends and family about it – we hope it will raise the profile of carers and also where carers can get help.

You can find out what events are happening in your local area at the Carers Week website and do post comments letting us know if you are involved in holding events for Carers Week. If you are, good luck!

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 10, 2011 Posted by | Carers Week 2009, Mental Health, Young carers | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Alternative Vote (AV) and Carers

I nearly did a PhD in politics once. I was going to study why people don’t vote, with one of the potential reasons being that people who don’t vote feel a lack of influence over their representatives and how they act when elected.

Proponents of the Alternative Vote (AV) system, being voted on in the referendum, say it would partly address this. They say that because some people may feel demotivated to vote in constituencies where there is only one or two likely winners if their preference is for somebody very unlikely to win. They have also been arguing that because AV increases competition, it motivates MPs to pay greater regard to their constituents when elected as their re-election will be less likely guaranteed.

The third argument is they offer is that currently some people feel forced to vote for one candidate to keep another out, even though their preference is for a third candidate. AV should enable that person to vote as they truly believe, for the people they want in Government and as the argument goes finding out people truly think may lead to a more representative government and Parliament.

There has also been a vigorous no campaign which has been arguing that the system would be more complicated because people can rank up to three candidates (you could still just put your first preference only if you wanted).

They also point out that it may make coalition governments more likely as parties other than Labour and Conservatives could win seats making it harder for one party to win an overall majority in Parliament.

Important questions, and the real shame will be if few people vote.

Fewer people vote in local elections than in national elections too, thought to be due to people thinking they are less important. Yet, when localism is the order of the day and local government assumes more responsibility for decision making, who you vote for will have a large, and growing, effect on your lives.

The shame is that even those who do vote often vote according to their view of national politics and political parties, when the local policies and people can be quite different. The UK Government has focussed its cuts disproportionately on funding to local government in England, and because of this we have come to realise what a large role local government has in providing services that we value and need in our lives every day.

National politicians seem to believe that the population want local solutions to local problems. This may be correct and I hear this from people quite often. However, if it is true and we do want local solutions to local problems, then we must take on our democratic responsibility to get involved in this and vote for those people who will be making those decisions on our behalf.

And if you don’t then you may find that the school you send your kids to, the library you get books from or pool you go to, the roads you drive on, the shops you buy from, the recycling bins you use, and yes, even the Carers’ Centre or Crossroads Care you get support from may not be there anymore.

Take care to vote

May 5, 2011 Posted by | David Cameron | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ignoring What’s Around Us is Not the Ideal Way to Work

They call it conference season as though it’s something that everybody experiences like other seasons but it’s more like a conference cocoon. Politicians, party members, journalists and lobbyists all hemmed into the one ‘secure zone’ around a conference centre as the people of Liverpool, Manchester and then Birmingham carried on their daily lives around us.

I left the Conservative conference and read that it was “dominated” by the child benefit announcement. Try telling that to the people attending vigorous debates on health and the NHS; or those on climate change, or international aid, or transport, or foreign trade. There are literally hundreds of debates at each party conference with virtually every issue being covered.

Party conferences are a bubble that you come out of to find an outside world that has a very different conception of “what is happening” inside. Additionally, the people in the ‘inside’ are different; they are the extreme. Party members, single issue campaigners, journalists, and full time politicians are all at the ‘extreme’ in terms of how much politics takes over their life. And then we put them all in the place!!!

They attend breakfast meetings together, a debate at lunchtime, a roundtable discussion in the afternoon, a reception with speeches in the evening and then drink together in the same bar talking about politics. It strikes me that this might be what it is like for MPs most of the time – politics taking over their whole life.

It is a surreal existence and one that I don’t think is very healthy. I instinctively needed an escape so found myself seeing some Biennial art installations/exhibits in Liverpool; visiting the Lowry and Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, and visiting a remembrance shrine in Birmingham and meeting a mate for a pint in his local. Even at the conferences I found myself going to debates on international aid and environmentalism.

Was I wrong to do this? Should I have spent every minute pressing the case of carers, which is my responsibility and duty? Some will say yes, which I understand. But, I think the variety of experience is enriching and has value in itself.

If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t know that ensuring transparency of how national funds are spent locally increased the amount of aid spent for what it was intended from 20% to 84% in Uganda (rings bells regarding Carers’ Strategy monies). Or that domestic fuel bills could rise significantly over the decade because it costs twice as much to build a coal power station that captures emissions to one that doesn’t and we will only build these the ‘clean’ ones in future (will the winter fuel payment become ever more necessary?). Or that my mate is working on developing a drug which increases the ability of Parkinson’s to control their movements and general motor functions.

We lose something by ignoring all that is around us, and whilst I am very fortunate to experience what is around me, I am not sure MPs are.

The next few blogs will tell you a bit more of what actually happened rather than my musings on the lives of MPs.

Take care

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Budget, Carers Strategy, David Cameron, Education, Equality Bill, Health, Individual Budgets, Law | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments