One week in...
Carers Trust was thrilled this week with the arrival of its new CEO, Kirsty McHugh. After a whirlwind first week, we asked Kirsty to reflect on what she’s seen so far. And to look forward to how Carers Trust and its network of local partners will continue to support unpaid carers across the UK.
It’s been a momentous week for me. After what has seemed an eternity of waiting, I finally pitched up at Carers Trust’s London offices on Monday.
On a personal level, walking into an office after 23 months of WFH was quite something. It was odd, but good, donning office clothes, getting on a not at all crowded train (where is everybody?) and seeing other people in the flesh. It has also been the deepest of dives into the culture, history and future of an extremely important organisation – the UK-wide charity for local organisations supporting unpaid carers. Given that two in three of us are going to become a carer at some point in our lives, what could be more important than that?
However, however… when were unpaid carers much on the national agenda? Those people without whom the whole of the UK health and social care system would collapse? As I type, all eyes are fixed on Ukraine. In some ways our domestic issues might seem small compared to events unfolding there. However, for the 850,000 carers that Carers Trust’s network of local partners support, those day to day issues loom large.
I was deeply worried by the findings of Carers Trust recent survey showing the extent of pressure unpaid carers were under. So it was great to see us inserting ourselves into the cost of living debate, leading to more press exposure, including on broadcast media. One of my priorities is to ensure that the Carers Trust network is an increasing part of that debate, be that in Westminster, the devolved administrations or at regional or local level, and that the voices of unpaid carers and the experiences of our Network Partners are prominent.
I have also been worried by the implications of the Government’s proposed changes to student loan eligibility, which risk making the routeway into university even more challenging for some young people. Carers Trust is the leading organisation in the UK on support for young carers and ensuring that policies make it easier, not harder, for young carers to continue into higher education and forge great careers is a simple matter of equity.
As for the next few weeks, my priority is to get to know our Network Partners intimately. It is wrong that the unpaid carer infrastructure at local and regional level is sometimes undervalued by local health and social care systems (although I also know of many examples of where great local relationships thrive) and I am determined that Carers Trust as the national charity is going to do everything it can to promote the interests of these local organisations as the best possible means of supporting the millions of unpaid family carers who need our help.
For more information on Kirsty, read our announcement of her appointment.