“We are on a mission to stamp out…inequality”
In Black History Month our CEO Kirsty McHugh reflects on work to make Carers Trust and its network of local carer organisations more diverse and inclusive.
Black History Month is a time of celebration and of stocktaking. As Chief Executive of the UK infrastructure charity working to transform the lives of unpaid carers, I’m therefore keen that we also take stock on what we can do to improve support for unpaid carers from black communities and other ethnic minority groups.
I was pleased, when taking up post earlier this year, to inherit a charity which had already identified equality, diversity and inclusion as a priority. Research had been undertaken and an action plan was in development. Since then, we’ve been rolling out training across all staff and Trustees, with staff leading a working group on the development of our anti-racism roadmap. We couldn’t have made such progress without the sterling support of our consultancy partner, Better Org.
But we know that our role doesn’t stop there. Carers Trust is at the helm of a diverse and dynamic network of local carer organisations, with our collective efforts supporting nearly one million unpaid carers every year. Many of those we support find themselves in difficult circumstances. We know that 48% have had to give up paid work to fulfil their caring role and that the availability of services to support both the carer and the cared for is a cause of great concern. Put simply, there is far too little money in the system.
“Carers from some minority ethnic groups are far less likely to be accessing the local support they desperately need”.
The impact of this hurts some groups disproportionately, with wider embedded inequalities within society also manifesting themselves in our sector. Carers from some minority ethnic groups are far less likely to be accessing the local support they desperately need, be that information and advice, or guidance, education and employability support, or respite care and short breaks. We are on a mission to stamp out this inequality. Our Making Carers Count programme, generously funded by the Association of British Insurers, is funding pilots around the country aimed at building the evidence base on how to connect unpaid carers from under-represented communities. I’ve been fascinated to learn about projects from Camden and Haringey to Swindon and Newcastle, even reaching as far north as Lanarkshire, all aimed at identifying and meeting the needs of unpaid carers from different ethnic minority backgrounds.
But we cannot rest until this access gap is completely closed. Looking ahead, there’s a variety of roles we can fill, including through evidence and best practice, funding and programme development, through to policy, leadership and training.
Black History Month comes every year, but we need to celebrate, learn and keep our focus always.
Read about "What Black History Month means to Rochelle Raheem" - a unpaid carer from Higham Ferrers in Northamptonshire.