Adam Rowles, Chair of Trustees for Carers Trust Cambridgeshire and Peterborough: During the course of 2015 we saw the introduction of statutory rights for carers for the first time - surely a huge step forward in terms of raising the profile and recognising the contribution of unpaid family carers ?
Overshadowing this step forward, however, has been the continuing pressure on funds from both central and local government - something that is only going to get worse over the coming years. We face a situation where the population is not only rising, it is getting older and long term morbidity is increasing - a perfect storm ? This is inevitably going to mean an even greater reliance upon the role of the army of unpaid family carers in their families and communities. Are we ready for this? I would suggest we are not. I think society is still largely in denial about what it is going to take to look after our husbands, wives, children and parents should they need care in the future.
This situation leads me to ask what the role of Carers Trust Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will be in the years to come. Much is spoken of vision, strategy, tactics etc. not to mention process, accountability and sustainability ( if we are not here we cannot do). But what exactly does all this mean ? Precisely what is it that we are trying to do?
My word limit on this piece does not allow me to answer all these questions, nor am I clever enough to have any or all of the answers. It is a new year. For many, the start of that year will not mean anything new - if they are lucky it will be a continuation of the situation, if unlucky the worsening of their circumstances.
What I would like to do with this article is to share a personal aspiration. That aspiration is that during 2016 fewer people will have to leave their homes to go shopping wondering what they might come back to, that fewer people will feel the guilt of being exasperated with a loved one, that fewer people will be trapped in a hospital bed for lack of resource for them to go home, that more people will be supported to remain in their own home, that fewer people will feel isolated within their own communities, that fewer children will have their educational potential blighted by caring responsibilities. I could go on, but the list might be a long one. In short I want the world to be an easier place for unpaid family carers to continue to live their own lives and fulfil their own potential.
To accomplish any of the above we need to reach out to whole communities to say “work with us to identify need before it reaches crisis point”. We need volunteers to help out in any way they feel they can. We need people to raise money for us in order that we can continue with our work. We need to recruit more staff dedicated to raising the profile of unpaid family carers. Most of all we need a commitment that one person at breaking point is one person too many.
Caring is not something that can be cured but with an acceptance that we are all potential carers or that we will know someone who is we can make a difference to individual lives.
My challenge to everyone at the start of 2016 is to ask what small thing you, as an individual, can do to make sure that we make that difference to someone’s life.