Wow. What a great week!
Being new to the campaigning work that Macmillan does to support carers, there was no better way to get me inspired, fired up and ready to influence than this year’s Carers week.
As the most successful one yet, the annual campaign to raise awareness of caring saw 2290 individuals and organisations sign up, 1730 pledges of support and thousands of events taking place around the UK. This year’s focus was on building Carer Friendly communities that will support carers to look after their loved ones, whilst also recognising that they have individual needs of their own. Being supported by their local community is vital for those caring for a loved one with cancer, when a community is Carer Friendly every part of it will be geared towards addressing their needs.
Having never been one to do things by halves I thought that the best way to immerse myself in Macmillan’s work was to jump straight in, joining carers and charity colleagues for the Parliamentary launch of Carers Week last Monday. With 132 MPs from all parties attending the launch there was a buzz in the room as we celebrated the incredible work of carers throughout the UK. We were also able to discuss the issues that cancer carers face and to hear MPs talking at length to carers about their experiences, both positive and negative, and the daily challenges they face.
I was fortunate enough to sit with Victoria, a young adult carer who, after her dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour, cared for him with her step-mum for over a year. Not once did she consider herself as a carer, just a loving daughter.
Victoria’s story was incredibly moving and, as Carers Week drew to a close, I reflected on the stories I’d heard throughout the week. It really hit me that too many people go through caring alone and receive little help from the health or social care services. Carers who are not supported can reach crisis point, developing or worsening their own health and care needs.
Despite the overwhelming support that has been shown for Carers Week this year, reaching more people than ever, there is still much more to be done to ensure carers are getting the support they need.
After such an inspiring week I feel full of energy and ready to influence!