Carers’ Week 2010 is just around the corner.
So to mark the occasion I have written to Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant asking him to put pressure on the coalition government to stop calling us “unsung heroes” and start listening to what we have to say about the type of practical help and support we require:
Dear Mr Fabricant,
Congratulations on your recent re-election.
I understand you have sent a message of support to the organisers of Carers’ Week 2010 (June 14-20). Thank you for backing the campaign to raise awareness of the role of millions of carers in the UK.
Hopefully Carers’ Week will go a long way towards highlighting the need for greater practical support for carers. The fact that Carers’ Week parliamentary ambassador, Paul Burstow MP, has been appointed as Minister for Care Services in the Department of Health, is great news.
However, it is with some dismay that I note the new coalition government has so far failed to reveal any firm proposals aimed at carers.
I appreciate this is very early days for the new government and there are a large number of pressing priorities, not least the state of the economy. But at a time when the focus is on saving money, the fact that carers help to save the NHS and other public bodies hundreds of millions of pounds each year through the 24-hour care and support they provide for relatives and friends is once again conveniently overlooked.
We were provided with some glimmer of hope during the election campaign as all three main party leaders mentioned carers and the need for greater support in at least two of the three live television debates. Yet, once again, there is little evidence of those words being followed by decisive action.
Little wonder that I and many other carers are beginning to find the description of us as “unsung heroes” by politicians increasingly offensive. It suggests a desire to secure a decent media soundbite, rather than a genuine aspiration to provide practical help.
It would also make a refreshing change if senior politicians listened to what carers are saying, rather than plucking ideas out of thin air.
I consider myself lucky in that I have been able to continue my career whilst caring for my wife. I’m not looking for praise, I’m not looking for a sympathetic nod of the head, but I am looking for practical help and support.
In your support of Carers’ Week I hope you will add your voice to those calling on the coalition government to follow up their words of support by listening carefully to what carers are saying and backing us with decisive and practical action.