Carers Week 2022
Nicola, Sally and Isabelle- three carers who work with BASW - share their experiences as we mark Carers Week 2022
BASW is proud to support Carers Week 2022 - an opportunity to champion the voices of unpaid carers and raise awareness of the huge contribution that they make to society and to the lives of the people they care for.
More than 6 million people across the UK are carers. They provide unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has an illness or disability - or who needs extra help as they get older.
'While our eyes are wide open to the responsibility of being a lifelong carer, sadly the Government has its eyes closed'
Nicola and Sally are family carers who work with BASW England.
Nicola is an expert by experience in her role as carer for her son, and she works to support BASW England's Homes not Hospitals campaign.
Sally is an expert by experience in her role as carer for her son who has recently turned 18. Sally works with BASW England supporting the adult social work group.
Nicola said: "As a full-time carer for many years, when my youngest son was old enough, I started working part-time (and had to give up the voluntary work I did).
"My Carers Allowance stopped, which took with it certain other benefits, even though I still care full time. I also find that I use holidays in my caring role, so I don't actually get a break at all, and even weekends get taken up with caring duties.
"Local carers support seems to be aimed at people who are free during the day, and I'm not, so where is the community support for working carers? Sometimes I need a break, but if I don't work, I don't get paid, and the bills keep on rising, same as for everyone else. And both my grown-up disabled sons need me to be there for them, so I am."
Sally said: "I am blessed to be a parent and have learned to embrace my life as parent/carer over the past 22 years. Children open your eyes to new possibilities; the world of disability opens your eyes to different abilities and the gift of uniqueness.
"While our eyes are wide open to the responsibility of being a lifelong carer, sadly the Government has its eyes closed. I am invisible - one of a huge unpaid carer workforce that is invisible, silenced by the media, policy, legislation and systems devised to disempower and control.
"My job is for life: no terms of reference, no pay scale, 24 hours/7days a week and no holiday. Instead of Continuous Professional Development it is continuous Professional Disillusionment. Professions who have a direct impact on my family have a government that doesn’t listen to them and a government that doesn’t see us unpaid carers.
"I must fail to be seen. The SEN education system is understaffed, under-resourced and has insufficient provisions… how can my son grow and learn? There are no places, limited hours. Parents having to fight to systems to prove their child’s worthiness to attend.
"I am sure I would be seen if my child failed to attend school. Remember, it’s us that support our children to cope with education, who help deescalate after school and who supports the behaviour at home.
"Why must the system that is meant to support my caring role trap me from employment of my career choice? I earn too much, you take so much more away, so trapped again I stay. I can find care to support my child so I can work; I watch my skills, competencies and confidence dwindle away.
"Time out, time away, time to think just for one day! Again more evidence to be seen, eligibility, and paperwork. Social care wants to support but is understaffed, under-resourced and underpaid. Coronavirus has changed the world in so many ways. It was the most intense feeling of incarceration, caring and isolation two-fold. The systems are now not only understaffed, under-resourced and underpaid but playing catch up and dealing with established carers and a wave of new carers hitting crisis.
"I am getting older and more tired of the endless hurdles to fight for support, respite, education and work. The value in the unpaid carer must be SEEN to be believed."
Isabelle is the carer for her son and a family rights campaigner and Homes Not Hospitals campaigner. She is also a key member of Bringing Us Together.
“My own experience was that my son reached a predictable and preventable crisis, that was in part caused by a lack of respite for us as his unpaid carers."
"Had we had respite support, it would have helped to prevent a catastrophic inpatient admission and the trauma it caused to my son and us his family. We will live with this trauma for the rest of our lives.”
Make Caring Visible and Valued
“There are millions of carers across the UK - including young carers - providing support and care to those they love in extremely challenging circumstances. Many carers are unpaid and do not access or receive the support they are entitled to, many are invisible," said Maris Stratulis, BASW England National Director.
"The impact of Covid has highlighted stark inequalities and gaps, including carers who are facing financial hardship, experiencing ill health, trying to manage work and caring responsibilities. We must make caring visible - and social workers have a key role to play in assessing and supporting carers' needs."
"We must also recognise the diversity of carers - young carers, parent carers, carers of people with mental health issues, Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) carers or carers who are disabled themselves - and the unique difficulties they face."
"We fully support the Carers Trust and other national charities involved with carers - and call upon Government to provide additional support for carers across a range of areas including the identification of carers, financial help, and support with work and care."
Carers are the unsung heroes of our society. Carers Week is an opportunity for us to raise awareness of the role carers play, the challenges they face, and the contribution they make to their loved ones’ lives.
During National Carers week we will be supporting the campaign theme of 'Make Caring Visible and Valued' by promoting the voice and perspective of unpaid carers, reflecting on the last 12 months during the pandemic and taking a closer look at carer’s rights.
BASW adds its voice to calls for the UK Government to publish a Recovery and Respite Plan for Unpaid Carers - outlining additional support for carers across a range of areas, including: breaks, respite and care services, infection control, identification of carers, financial help, and support to help people juggle work alongside their caring responsibilities.