Carer’s Week 2020: Make Caring Visible

By Sandra Webster

Today is the start of Carer’s week. A week where unpaid carers are applauded for what we do. 

Keeping up with recent rhetoric we are a hidden army, who with compassion care for not only one person but sometimes with many. 

For this some of us receive carers allowance, I say some because many include those who receive a pension, work or study more than 16 hours a week do not. 

Hundred of thousands of folk care but are not in receipt of carers allowance so will not be entitled to the top up those on carers allowance will receive soon. 

It will make a difference as carer poverty is on the rise. Some may know of the clock that shows how close we are to nuclear war. Mine is the poorhouse clock which is very close to midnight.

This has been a very strange time for us all, Many of us are caring for someone who is shielding and as we support folk our worlds are becoming smaller too. 

We have been told to stay indoors, wear a scarf, and clean all our surfaces and I do live in constant fear of what will happen if we get Covid-19, or those we support. 

Many of our care packages have been withdrawn and in a time when we need more support, we are getting by.

Support networks have been cut. I thank heavens for folk who phone to find out how we are and social media. 

It reminds me of the whispers of sea shells from Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. I am aware of many struggling and we as unpaid carers are good at looking out for others.

I think I have participated in so many Carer’s Weeks. 

We could physically get together and be patted on the back by whoever is in charge. In the year of The Plague things are different with meet ups on Zoom and carers getting encouraged to get their voice out. 

The theme Make Caring Visible is a good one, and I hope this time it will be more than a one week wonder. 

I do though understand the sentiments of one carer who wrote “No hashtags just do something”. 

I agree and wonder when this pandemic is over how many more folk will need support

Like many I am exhausted and my son will from tomorrow get dialysis three times a week. 

We will have to fit it in but how? Like many others I lie awake and worry and hit the ground running. Most of the folk supporting us are from the Third Sectors. 

These organisations are expected to offer direct support when they should be an extra. All council systems are closed though. I appreciate the carers who visit my mother in law. I stand with them and thank them for their kindness.

Unpaid carers receive no support, we may get a few days of respite if we are lucky and expected to be grateful which we are but there is no-one to offer support or sick pay. 

More and more of us are just shattered. I dream of sleep and perhaps a few days on Branson’s Island.

We stand with paid carers in nursing homes and the community and the risks they take. We need to have a conversation about what unpaid carers, not pats on the head but some real action.

Expect many people to thank unpaid carers for all they do but it should be more than a week. 

So to the many carers I applaud you and worry about you. Thinking of you all and I hope enough is enough. Take Care in times like these.

Build a National Care Service to provide for carers – publicly owned and without means testing: