Local carer organisations commit to putting unpaid carers at heart of social care debate in run up to General Election
Carers Trust brought together local carer organisations from across its network this week for a conference to consider the acute pressures facing unpaid carers and local carer organisations across England, Scotland and Wales.
Delegates were joined at Carers Trust’s Network Partner Conference in York by a range of speakers from influential organisations working across social care, including the King’s Fund, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Nuffield Trust, Homecare Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care Services (ADASS).
The annual conference also provided an invaluable opportunity for over 120 local carer organisations within the Carers Trust Network to consider common challenges, share innovation and best practice and to discuss campaigns to put unpaid carers at the heart of the national debate on the UK’s ongoing social care crisis.
With just a year to go before the next General Election, pressures on unpaid carers and the organisations that support them have never been greater. It was in this context that Simon Bottery from the King’s Fund, Dr Anna Dixon from the Archbishops’ Reimagining Care Commission and Thea Stein from Nuffield Trust opened the first session titled ‘Shifting the Narrative: The Future of Care’.
Simon Bottery observed there has been a ‘big surge’ in demand for social care since 2015-16 but ‘fewer people are getting social care support’. ‘The reason carers are struggling’, he continued, ’is because social care is stuck in a rut.’
Dr Anna Dixon from the Reimagining Care Commission said ‘the real reason we need better social care is because it’s a moral disgrace people aren’t having their needs met’.
One of the ways the Government could do more to support carers, she continued, ‘is to find ways to support them back into work. It’s good for them and good for the economy. But if you’re a carer now, it’s hard to go back to work. So we need the Government to help carers back into work.’
The conference also created a unique space for Carers Trust Network Partners to come together to strengthen organisational development, showcase best practice, share innovation and hear from funders like the UK National Lottery Community Fund on what they can do to secure more funding.
Network-led sessions shared good practice on financial support for carers, supporting carers’ learning journeys through effective local partnerships and transforming carer support through effective triage.
Another set of workshops focused on how Carers Trust Network Partners could bolster their engagement with local media, make more effective use of data and evidence to support sustainability as well as how to lead in challenging times.
The conference concluded with an inspiring conversation between Carers Trust’s CEO, Kirsty McHugh, and ADASS President, Beverly Tarka.
Beverly, who has been a carer for her brother and who now cares for her mother, described how ADASS is determined to make the case for better social care by working collaboratively with other organisations, including carer support charities, on campaigns that engage the public and win its support. “This is the way”, she said, “to get Government to listen to us on social care.”
Reflecting on this year’s Network Partner Conference, Carers Trust’s Director of Network Development, Alex Roberts, said:
“Connecting and looking up and out together as a network is what makes us stronger as a movement for unpaid carers. The passion, commitment and peer support of the last couple of days has been inspiring to see, particularly in the midst of such a challenging operating environment."
"I’m looking forward to carrying this energy into collaborating beyond conference, working alongside colleagues across the network to champion the vital role of local carer organisations in meeting the needs of unpaid carers.”